Chicken Blog by Natalie

Around the House

Chickenblog.com - Fri, 10/22/2021 - 11:48
Our home projects are coming along nicely, and I want to apologize for only hinting at them, and not sharing everything. I am thinking of doing a Before & After post, and in the meantime I just feel a bit guarded about it... not sure why. I know I've mentioned "lockers." I wasn't sure if I'd shared a picture. These are for the guest bathroom, and I am still pinching myself about this find. I have had wishful notions about using old school lockers for storage in our long, narrow hall bathroom for years. Just recently, this almost new set came up at the university surplus store! I laughed so hard at myself when all the way home I was going on and on about how pretty the blue is, then we got home and stood the lockers up by the front door, and it's no wonder I am so admiring of the color! It's practically the same as the house. There will be a locker for each of us, and more for towels, t.p., cleaning supplies, health products, a hair dryer. In the meantime, while Mike finishes updating the bathroom in Alex and Bambi's room, the lockers are holding pumpkins, and looking very cute. Have you ever prognosticated on the forthcoming winter by studying the stripes of a woolly caterpillar? That is something my father-in-law explained to me when we lived in Minnesota. Phil explained that the width of the brown band on the caterillar was an indication of how severe the winter would be. I can't remember... was a narrow band a hard winter, or the other way? Ah, of course, the Internet knows about woolly bear caterpillars, and weather prediction. Anyway, around here, we have a woolly goat, and I have become accustomed to sizing Ada up in autumn, checking for the thickness and woollyness of her undercoat. I figure if she, or Tasha, are getting really fluffy, it has to be a sign of something... cold, rain, lots of rain? What would they look like if were going to get snow? So far, I am not sure we are getting any severe weather. Other indicators, like the return of La Niña conditions, indicate the same: Mild winter, less rain. Too bad. If Cairo is in the picture, it is an indication that I am trying to clean, or write, or paint, or accomplish anything. Right in the middle of this (dread) chore... clearing out all of the bathroom cabinets and drawers, Cairo popped into the first cleared-out compartment and made himself right at home. I don't think Mike is going to have time to get to the upstairs bathroom, not on this visit. But it's something we are eager to get done. The natural stones in the shower are crumbling. Oh! And in order to finally finish installing the solar, someone has to move around in the attic, bring wires through walls, tear out the drywall beside the toilet, and hook everything up into the electrical box in the garage... so! Yeah, there will be necessary repairs to make in the upstairs bathroom. I figure, new shower tiles, and new paint to cover the new dry wall. It's sure to become one of those jobs where one thing leads to another. It will be interesting to see what gets done in the next few weeks. Cairo, will help all he can, I am sure! Here. Two more glimpses. These are of the bathroom in The Lab. Twelve years ago, when we moved in, I was not interested in having a lot of bathrooms to clean, so this over-sized bathroom has been a closet. We knew it needed repairs to continue as a fully functioning bathroom, and we put that off until necessary. Someday, Bambi hopes to have a dog, and we have always known that this room, which is suite-like, could be improved to be like a studio apartment or junior accessory unit. So, we had Mike add a door to the outside, which will be handy for a little dog coming in and out of the house, or young folk enjoying a space that feels a little more their own. Mike replaced some broken things, and added an electric hot water heater. The improvements are practical, and winning! Some of the last details going in are an awning and pavers set in mortar. This future dog will have a small, fenced yard, and a mud room entry. When dust settles, I will share more pictures. In book club, Maria and her peers are reading The Hobbit. It's more than a book club, there's crafting! Last year, Maria and I shared needle felting wool dryer balls... they make an excellent canvas, and it was a nice project to teach, socially distanced, outdoors. They've also done embroidery. The latest activity is making these elf ears, or ear cuffs... elf ear cuffs. It requires wire twisting, and I am thinking the hardest part is making a second ear look like the first one. Maria's are coming along nicely. We started listening to the Audible reading of The Hobbit, which is a nice accompaniment to crafting. I brought out my embroidery supplies, and have this handkerchief going with holly and berries. I can't resist, one more glimpse! Alex and I rushed around collecting tiles and glass and shiny things just before Mike poured the last layer of mortar, and we've been playing in the mud! The little landing outside the new Lab entry is officially Dazzling! And that's it for now, because I need to finish clearing every last thing out of the guest bathroom... Mike is about to tear it out! Pinch me!

The Sweet Things

Chickenblog.com - Wed, 10/20/2021 - 10:59
We had the pleasure of going to the reception for Michael Colletta's art exhibit. It's the first time I have seen his work, not on social media, but in person, and it was wonderful! Michael's paintings, and drawings, are so compelling, I want to hear the stories that must accompany each work. I feel like the portraits relate an, as yet, unspoken narrative, and still, I also sense Michael's quiet reserve, his modest, soft spoken nature. I am only sharing a few of the many works that are hanging at the Community Center, and I am hoping local friends will have a chance to see them in person, by November 10th.William had an impulse to make churros, which Max had, too, last year. I remember it was on our list of things we would do for Christmas, and I even ordered a pastry bag, but we never got around to it. Now we have done it! We've made churros. It's a classic, almost cliche thing... deep fried dough, rolled in sugar? Yeah, that can't go wrong! The dough is like nothing I've worked with before, as it is heated in a pan, and then fried. We need a larger tip, so we can get the proper fluted churro look. The dough is dense, and we couldn't get it to squeeze through anything but the open pastry bag. I was a bit obsessed with how much they look like creepy fingers, especially when they fried! Too perfect for Halloween! For Christmas, I want the pretty tip, and hot chocolate! Alex made an excellent observation and put it to the test... apple churros! He sliced a Granny Smith, and we wrapped slices in the churro dough... conclusion: Apples wrapped in deep fried dough, rolled in sugar? Yeah, that can't go wrong!
Indulge me, just a moment. *sigh* Such a pleasant moment, scene. I cleared the dining table, and lit new candles, which, by the way, have the faintest hint of honey fragrance. They are from Ikea. So are the candle holders.

I don't know why I am making a promotional post for Ikea, or why I do it for any company. Except Amy's. Amy's Drive Thru was super sweet and appreciative of the time I waxed poetic about their delicious take on fast food, and how eager I am for their business to succeed and expand. They answered my letter, and were very gracious. They sent me a darling grocery tote and cap!

Whoa. I am way off topic. What was that, again? My topic?

I was thinking of a moment of calm, of feeling appreciative, and even a bit accomplished. My impulse is to see a good moment, and shoot it down with a long list of all the ways I am not succeeding. I knew, for instance, that to my left and right, behind me, upstairs, and downstairs, there are messes, and urgent tasks that are almost perpetually neglected. I should cut my hair, maybe color it. The goat's hooves need trimming. Laundry on the sofa. My bathroom needs total clearing so we can connect the solar to the electric grid in the garage. An endless list. I could torment myself all day. And I do. But! I got the table cleared, and those candles lit, and on the stove I had two pots of chili, one vegan, one turkey, both delicious. William was preparing a salad. We were all about to sit down to dinner together. I am sure I have taken this vow, before, written a similar post, but entropy is real, in the physical world, and in my thoughts and mindset... and so resetting is a necessary measure: Good enough is good enough, love and appreciation matter more than "perfection," and "perfection" is a myth, and crippling goal. Use the pretty bowls, light the candles, notice the good, don't wait to celebrate, to enjoy what's before you. Be kind and accepting of yourself. Talking to myself. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Oh gosh, the time and peace I have wasted with feeling ashamed, inadequate. I still hope to be a better person, to finally have things in order, and the calendar set to the correct month and year, but in the mean time... I have got to enjoy living, the sweet things, even with my flaws and all.

Fall Fairies and Friends

Chickenblog.com - Mon, 10/18/2021 - 11:18
One of these days it's going to rain on our picnic, or the park will be full up... but not today! One of these picnic days I will forget to bring food, or a craft, or I'll wake up cranky, but not today. Our October picnic was met with sun and shade, breezes, autumn colors, and room to spread out, space to gather. It was ideal, again. Spencer and Ido Acorn and Janece Ido and Simon Michael Leo, Maria and Acorn Inspired by one of the books I ordered from The Book Catapult, I brought flowers and our wreath~corona making supplies... the same ones we brought to Maker Faires, and other community events. Just a few mixed boquets from Trader Joes, wire and florist tape, is all it takes to get started. Maria and I soon remembered the methods and techniques we'd had so much practice with. It was fun making these, again, and fun remembering other happy times with flowers and friends. Carol is a phenomenal talent, in all kinds of mediums. She went forest foraging, and found all kinds of beautiful materials to create with. Maybe you remember at least one of the natural arrangements she's shared with us? I count myself fortunate everytime I see Carol, and Grace's, handy work! Acorn centered little golden leaves in her fairy wreath. Carol's wreath (I need to find a picture of it, finished) turned out like fairy queen's! Pretty Leslie! Grace and Beto. Grace has leather paint, and she relaxed in the shade, finishing a shoe restoration. Alistair brought a game... which was a big hit with the gaming bunch. Paul brought art supplies. He's been bringing out his sketch books, sharing on Instagram! Taco brought his frisbee, and a very soggy, torn up, beloved tennis ball! Taco knows how to have a good time!
Daniel, Bex, Paul, and Janece.

And fruit salad, and baklava, and teeny cupcakes, and sandwiches, and burrito making supplies, and lemonade, and dragon fruit!
No words... Logan, Spencer, Leslie, Simon, Ido, Lily, Mark. Bex Lily Taco Matt and Leah Spencer and Leslie Logan
Ido and Mark

I think we have this worked out... come when you can, bring what you like, do what you want. We hike, we nap, we talk, we play games, and throw balls, we invent sports, and learn skills, we eat, and laugh. And no one person has to do it all, or over think anything. It really is quite simple, blissful.
Olivia arrived with these dazzling little cupcakes she made, and then she made a dazzling fairy crown. Matt always has his picnic game in perfect order... from food to crafts, he comes prepared. In Wisconsin, Georgia arranged a Zoom for Grandpa Phil and Maria, with Aunts Laura, and Holly. Maria's Grandpa had a book of Sandra Cisnero's poetry to share with her. He has been loving the collection of poems Maria sent him. And we are very happy to share that Phil is continuing to make healthy strides in his rehabilitation, and recovery. It was good to see him looking so well, and sounding energetic. I love this picture Leslie took of Maria looking every bit like a content and lovely garden fairy. Lucas, Maria, Max, and Alex. Olivia with Taco. Spencer and his Mommy. A bit of paint, lots of flowers, and All Lily... she's positively fairy-like!

Hug Your Land Seal Day

Chickenblog.com - Fri, 10/15/2021 - 10:17

Actually, it's Flower Day for homecoming week. And it's the last day of their first quarter. Hugging Sakamoto is a bonus!

Happy Friday, friends. I woke up ready for a nap, but then I found a whole bunch of comments for Chickenblog waiting in queue, and it was my cuppa coffee... sweet and welcome, and it woke me bright up! Janece, thank you. Comments and connection really do make my day. Sometimes I get down about the low and slow traffic to this space, but when it comes to quality connections, I am enjoying great success.
This scene, seeing it in a photograph, makes me slowly draw in a breath, and a knowing feeling sinks down, all the way into my feet... things are messy, and it's going to get worse. Like, a lot worse. I've got my excuses and rationales, but nevermind. I simply can't keep up, and life has been rough, so the house looks rough, and now we are taking some spaces apart for repairs and improvements, which means a lot of shifting things around. Do you ever deep clean, and in the midst of it, for a time, things look worse than before you started? We are getting there. There is upheaval and we are only about 10% in before things get really gnarly! Our recent attempt to make a big donation to our regular charity shop was turned away! Yeah, everyone is making contributions and dropping stuff off, so they have more than they want. Now we have stuff, lots of stuff, in a material purgatory! I don't want to throw it away. But. We do have a pool to fill. Just kidding. Does anyone need a humidifier, a bassinet, how about a giant mirror? How about two giant mirrors! Possibly I had no business bringing home a plastic blow mold Frosty in the midst of this disorder. I admit: It was a moment of weakness, which is something I recognize, readily, from other equally questionable moments of weakness. I promise, no more baby chicks, plastic blow molds, fabric, yarn, parasols, cake molds, or chairs... this month. year. until further notice.
What, when your bathrooms are being torn up, and an architect is meeting you to go over plans, permits, and septic schemes, when dry wall is getting pulled down, and windows pulled out... what do you do to manage everything? Papier maché? I thought so! Me too!

Me: Goes upstairs to tackle clearing out entire bathroom, finds empty toilet paper roll. Aha! Something needs to be done with this empty toilet paper roll. I have an idea. Leaves bathroom, laundry, full cabinets, drawers, and commences craft project.

By the way, it's a ratty-rat. And Geoff helped me use power tools to cut a chopstick (hey, one less item in the junk drawer!) and Alex found me some rebar tie wire for her tail. I want to paint her, then sew her some tiny clothes, then take her with me on bicycle rides.

Happenings

Chickenblog.com - Tue, 10/12/2021 - 10:58

Some pictures, and thoughts, and sentiments. Feynman, for starters... Maria took this picture of him, and it can't be not shared! And the cats being cute or funny, or even deliquent isn't unusual, of course. William took Maria's picture, cropped Feynman, and Photoshopped him into a celestial scene, and that was very funny. I need to get William to send it to me.

Geoff is home from Wisconsin. Phil, his Dad, has made some incredible strides in recovery, which we are so thankful for. He's taken a lot, and he hope that healing and rehabilitation continue. We know he has the will to fight, and our best thoughts and support to help him rally. Holly and Geoff were able to switch days, with Georgia, so that they each could be with Phil in the hospital, keeping him company. We all agree that family and friends, engagement and activity are power sources for Phil, and the more time he can spend interacting, the better.

Here, at home, we have been enjoying the home improvement programming going on, thanks to the return of Mike. Mountain Mike, Magic Mike. At one point, Alex, Max and I were literally watching a Sawzall blade cut through siding, as Mike made a new doorway. It was riveting! Noisier than watching paint dry, and just as compelling. I really do love seeing things constructed, de-constructed, fixed, repaired, created, designed, built, made. My job has been to keep the supplies coming. So, I am doing a lot of online research, comparing, and finally ordering. Bambi and I went to one store in search of the particular shower head that will replace the broken one in their room. It will have to be a special order. I would be disappointed about making the trip, but I fell in love, and now we have a Frosty yard character. I will be installing that, promptly, on November 26th. I mentioned the tile choices in the hall bathroom, and thank you for showing interest, and reassuring me. Reassurances are always welcome. I have more decisions to make, because we a bit desperate to improve our bathroom upstairs. For one thing, hooking up the solar panels requires going through walls in there, and for another, the natural stone tiles in our shower are naturally degrading. It's one of those things where removing A. requires replacing B. and so you might as well upgrade C. Know what I mean? Anyway, now I am trying to pick affordable, yet gorgeous, soothing yet uplifting, nonslip, nondegrading, everlasting, tasteful tiles, that are instock... for the floor, the shower floor, and the shower walls. And paint. I'll need to pick paint. I love when there are semi-inconsequential dramas to indulge in! I will stress and distress over all of this, but in a kind of insignificant way, ever mindful of the curse of blessings, like when we have opportunities, and good options.

My Mom sent us fossils! She knows we used some, and shells, when we built our wall and stairs. Mike set them in the stairs. Now, we have more for future projects. It's the intersection of building materials and art supplies, and we have plans, so these will be great.
Geoff sent this picture, the morning of his flight. Jabba being Jabba. He's very affectionate. Phil and Georgia's kitty is adored, especially by the grandchildren, and Maria sighed and exclaimed over this photograph, as she proclaimed all of his fine qualities. Besides Cairo being soft and warm, by my side, I wanted to capture this moment of Autumn light, the calm of a Sunday morning. I was checking Geoff's flight status, and thinking on the day ahead. Morning sunlight streamed in, and it was beautiful. Beautiful. I love it when beauty is immersive, when I can see it and feel it, when even my emotions and thoughts are touched, put at ease, or raised. Geoff's flight, from Madison, was a very early one, and so I was happy to whisk him away for breakfast/lunch. We went to Barrio Logan for tacos, and were lucky enough to get something extra... lowriders, and festive shops, a nice walk, then tacos and aguas frescas. Mine was lime, con Tajín. We followed this with a quick stop at The Book Catapult, because I had another order to pick up. I really like these necessary errands when I have my Love with me, and we can talk, and hold hands.
Con respeto, y amor. I am thinking of his loved ones, and in memory of our cousin, brother, son, father, nephew, Daniel GC... flowers, prayers, shared grief. Too soon, too sad. When I heard the news, my thoughts wouldn't stop, and over and over again, I felt the urgency of sharing both my sorrow, and to remind, and be reminded: Love! Love aloud and openly, say the words, and take the actions that show your affection and respect. Share the kind words, and ideas, and gestures that are in you, and don't wait. We can't avoid all sorrows, but we can relieve some, and make our lives gentler, more meaningful with even small deeds.

Rainy Friday, Sunny Forecast

Chickenblog.com - Fri, 10/08/2021 - 09:45
Our cat, Cairo, slipped out the front door this morning. He is always employing some tactic, or other, to make an escape. Saki and Feynman are happy, thankful, to be indoor cats, but Cairo fancies himself a woodsman, an explorer, and naturalist. We know better. Our great outdoors are no place for a floof nugget wiht soft feet, and inflated confidence. There are too many coyotes, bobcats, and fast vehicles for any small pets to be safe. I followed him around, in the light rain, as he gingerly picked his way around shrubs, and damp leaves. He chewed on blades of overgrown grass, and sat beneath the woodpile. I wasn't in the mood to chase him, so I just quielty tracked him, knowing that a big truck was due to arrive at any minute and the sound of four tires on the driveway would most likely send him running to the front door. My calculations were accurate. And I had a brief, yet worthwhile meditation on raindrops, stacks of beautiful smelling piñon, the soft light of a fall morning. Mike arrived, his work truck following the curve of the asphalt was muted, slow, but enough of a concern that Cairo dropped low and scurried to the door, and in.
Rainy day breakfast for the goats. I didn't ask the goats to stand in the rain to eat their hay, and instead served them in their shelter. Ada, staying out of the power struggle between young Grace and Tasha, looks unfazed. Smart goat, staying out of the fray. The issue was settled, breakfast resumed. The sun will reappear tomorrow, and I think the goats will appreciate that.

Our favorite handyman has returned! New projects have commenced! Plans that have been turning in our minds for months, are taking shape. I ordered tile, you guys! And. More hints? A bathtub, two sinks, some faucets, and I went and picked up a tankless, electric water-heater. What else? We had already ordered a door, and two windows. And good thing, because they took months to arrive. And, up until yesterday, we were scrambling to move stuff. Move trash out, and rearrange essentials, and dismantle a few things, in preparation. Mike does great work, and he wastes no time jumping in... whatever our vision, he smiles, nods, and says, "Ok. Sounds good." Last year, he gave us improved outdoor space, and a fresh look for our kitchen. This year, some bathrooms are getting tlc, which they are much in need of. Since Geoff is away, I am the boss... kidding. Well, not, but there's no bossing to do, and I can rely on Mike to do everything well, and safely. He even picked up hardware for the door, and I did not have to think twice about choosing, and that was priceless. I know Geoff is going to like what he sees when he gets back here. I know we are all going to be appreciating the home improvements coming to the Bird House. Is anyone going to ask what color tile I ordered?

Dropping In...

Chickenblog.com - Wed, 10/06/2021 - 10:50
It is the highlight of any day when I get a text message from Maria. Between classes, after school, she lets me know of any changes in her schedule, or if after school plans are developing. Sometimes I get a picture, often I get sweet expressions, and amusing details from her day. I cherish these interactions we share. And I miss the teachers and administrators that used to be on campus, the ones that took pictures and shared them... lots of them! Stricter regulations about visiting school campuses make it harder to make connections with what's happening at school, to feel in touch. The social media glimpses made up for it. Thank goodness for the teachers and staff that we stil know from when her brothers were students, from before social isolation, closed campuses, and safety concerns. (I appreciate the safety measures, but I miss the relaxed and broader community feel our schools enjoyed.) Thanks to some dear people there, including club hosts, mentors, and favorite teachers, I enjoy the pleasure of seeing Maria recognized and supported, I know she has caring individuals that look out for her, and her peers. So, when she has unscheduled hours, she can be in a welcoming space, to study, or chat. When she participates in clubs, after school, she will be around friends that are like family, who go way back. Alex, and Max, even William, were good students, participants, and built good will with the school, which has been a nice legacy for their young sister. I am especially thankful for Book Club, and Sue F., crafts, book events, that welcoming space, and these elf ears.This door is like a large screen, where the cats can enjoy their subscription to the Wild Life Channel. Today's feature, Lizard in the Sun! Their tails swished in rapt fixation. Oh, wait... I can share the video! Saki and Cairo, riveted by nature. On Monday one of our trees was being like a postcard for fall color, full of honey golden leaves that swayed in the breeze, and then that massive storm howled through, and the leaf show was blown away! Now those leaves, a bit battered, are groundcover for the goats and hens. It's our one annual brush with a classic fall scene, and even though it's small scale, I love the day when we have a pile of leaves! I saved a few for indoor decorating, too. Most years they are so dried out by the time they drop that they tend to crumble, but these are still pliable, and they smell pretty. My head is full of Pinterest saves for leaves... paint them, dip them in wax, press them, make a garland! Naturally, all of these appealing ideas come to me when I have pressing matters to attend to, adulting chores that cannot be put off for later. *sigh* One last look at fall color, this time as eggs. And now, to tackle some of those adulting matters!

Just Clouds

Chickenblog.com - Tue, 10/05/2021 - 11:41
Yesterdays's clouds continued to build and move, and the sunset painted them in a breathtaking array of colors and moods. In every direction we turned, the sky was spectacular. Geoff and I went out on our usual ride, but at the half way point the darkening eastern sky lit up in fantastic bolts of lightning! So we made a bee line for home, and I probably squeal-screamed about every other minute, then pedaled harder. We could see the storm was moving fast, and we really hoped to be faster! At home, we found Alex, Max, Maria, Bambi, and William watching from the backyard. The storm was still staying to the east, and some of us were trying to film the lightning. Maria captured some action, and we thought that our entertainment would move along, as these sort of rare storms do. Instead, this storm got bigger, louder, and lasted until pre-dawn, with lots and lots of rain, and wind. We ate our dinner on the porch, for maximum show value. One strike was so loud and bright, even Geoff screamed. The cats circled around our feet, Grace-goat pealed long plaintive bleats, while Tasha kept under the shelter, and very quiet. I imagine Ada was huddled with Tasha, and the chickens dozed contentedly. I've seen those hens sit in the wide open through hairy weather and look untterly unruffled. Our candlelight dinner was like a merry holiday. This morning, Janece and I compared notes, and she says Paul watched a weather segment, and learned that this storm made a double pass, traveling out to sea, gathering energy, and coming around, again! I have never been through a longer lasting, more dramatic thunder storm in San Diego County... this was Midwest level, or Sonora, or Guatemala! If Geoff gets any weather in Madison, he should be a bit acclimated for it. I wonder if our weather will head out east. I hope it holds off until everyone is under a good roof, and in the mood for lights and action!

Autumn Skies

Chickenblog.com - Mon, 10/04/2021 - 17:16
Happy Birthday, Bambi! Bambi's Mom, Robin, was sharing that Bambi has asked for birthday sushi since she was four years old. This year was no exception, but there was a twist. Her favorite restaurant is no longer open, sadly, but we may have a new favorite, where everything on the menu is vegan. Ordering was a bit confusing, as we weren't sure what all of the no tuna, no crab, no shrimp items were, but once we were served... there were no disappointments! Everything looked beautiful and tasted amazing. Purple black rice? They call it "Forbidden." We only know it was delicious. Thank you, Robin, and Gordon, for including us in this wonderful celebration. The setting itself deserved some photos, too, but I was too busy enjoying the good company, good food, and welcome outing. We all want to return. I will order the California rolls, again, as well as the Eggplant No Tuna Bites, and another order of Believer, please.
We came home to a really close-up visit with one of the neighborhood owls. We hoped he would hoot for us. There have been at least three regulars, calling at dusk and dawn. I love hearing them, and seeing them is special, too.

And a little noise for the new lights, please! Geoff just finished running a cable, and hanging up the lights. He hand picked each bulb. The man loves lighting! I am so lucky. We went with blues and oranges, in a mix. After Thanksgiving, we will switch out oranges for reds and greens, I think. Some of the bulbs are actual neon, and have surprisingly intricate details, like flowers and messages. It's all LED, so it takes very little energy, and we don't keep them on too late, so Nature can have its nighttime.

And today, speaking of Nature, the sky has been giving us a show, since sunrise. We even had a brief thunderstorm, with a steady shower of warm, plump raindrops. I went out to sit with the goats, pretending they needed me, because they don't like water and loud noises. But really, I think they were fine, and I was the one that was appreciating the company. They are silly and sweet, and lift my mood.

Pretty soon Geoff will be visiting Wisconsin, again, and taking my heart with him. Life is full, yeah? His Dad is recovering from some difficult setbacks, and we hope Geoff, and Holly, can help him rally. We are all going through it, but I will say it anyway... things are extra hard these days, expletive expletive expletive pandemic. (How do people still manage to debate this issue, and deny the actions that could have long since reduced the terrible numbers around COVID? For the record, the maskless, and unvaccinated, have recked havoc in the lives of loved ones, and it makes me angry, and very sad.) I will be so relieved to hear good news, and have Geoff home, again.

Some Fun

Chickenblog.com - Sun, 10/03/2021 - 09:55
All I need to start a new blog post is a picture of a cat, or a chicken. Any cute cat, or scratching hen, will get me going, and I can wax poetic for days. So, here we have Sakamoto in a box, looking adorably innocent, and I can't help bringing his little mug to the world, for all to see. He helped himself to the box sent by my Mom, and all of the soft and delicate shawls and rebozos, which are, fortunately, protected in the bag. After he finished inspecting and approving these contents, he took an all day nap on the coat Mom sent Maria. Good thing the beautiful coat is as black as kitty. And Mom, it fits very well. Maria only wishes it wasn't 80 degrees out!In other news... Maria and I left the house! She's in a book club at school, and the librarian arranged tickets for us to hear Anthony Doerr (All The Light That Cannot Be Seen) sharing his latest novel, Cloud Cuckoo Land. It was worthwhile... more than, actually. If Anthony Doerr is appearing at location near year, I highly recommend you attend. Some of his events are virtual, and Maria and I are thinking of tuning in, again, because we enjoyed his presentation so much. Normally, I would say more, but 1. I really hope Maria will be writing something about this experience. 2. I really hope you have a chance to see him for yourself. Continuing with the book theme, as well as turning out for authors, independent bookstores, artists, and friends... I made my own event of bringing home some more books. I ordered these from an independent book store and normally I would have them shipped, but this time I purposely chose to pick them up. It was to get me, and hopefully others, out of the house. It worked! Geoff and I had an almost spontaneous date, visiting The Book Catapult, where I got to see Susie Ghahremani's mural and finally bring home the book she illustrated, She Wanted to Be Haunted. I also got my hands on Phoebe Wahl's book, Little Witch Hazel. Geoff and I walked around South Park, popping into Bad Madge... sweetest welcome, there! I found a perfect party favor at Gold Leaf, for Bambi's D & D birthday night.
And then we somehow found our way to Pop Pie! It's been a long time since we've enjoyed this pleasure so we made up for lost time! We shared lunch... the creamed corn, and the vegan curry pie are so good! Then we made another order and brought home Pop Pies for everyone! Max exclaims for the Classic Chicken Pop Pie! My horchata was wonderfully refreshing on a hot Autumn day.

Wow! That's a lot for one little weekend, and it's still Sunday. I wonder what else we might get up to before it's Monday? What are you up to?

Kitty's Choice

Chickenblog.com - Sat, 10/02/2021 - 11:22
Maria is enjoying all of her classes, including Cartooning. This week's assignment: A single panel gag. I am pretty sure our own Feynman cat inspired this scene. Even the "best" cat food can't compare with whatever is on the dining table, and Feynman is usually the first one to come for dinner!

Oh My Goats It's October

Chickenblog.com - Fri, 10/01/2021 - 10:24
This is my picture for "Hello, it's me, October. May I come in?" It's not as though I didn't expect Ocotber. In fact I am always in a state of being eager for October. And yet. It's here, and it feels sudden, and full of urgency, expectations. "Ready or not," time seems to announce, as it stands inches from my nose, "Things are happening, and this could get messy, busy, chaotic. We are here, and coming in. Open up!" I hesitate. I stammer. Just, oh my goats... I feel so unprepared, half-dressed, apologetic, embarrassed, and it's too late to duck and hide, or bolt the door. Months and months ago, I discovered that in my stash I had 5 skeins of chunky yarn, so I started a shawl. Maybe it's been a year. I can't remember. I do remember committing to making a very relaxed, easy pace sort of project, so it gets worked on sporadically... a classic wip: work in progress. I thought it would make a very large shawl, since it's chunky and the pattern is loose, open? Anyway. I played the game of yarn chicken with the last skein, thinking I would be able to complete one last row, but I came up short by about 6 inches from the end. Nutz. I bought one more skein, convinced it was the same yarn. It is not the same yarn. Maybe I will have to frog the last row. Maybe I will put it in a drawer and forget it exists, and deal with it later. Maybe this is not an interesting subject, and it could account for why Chickenblog will always be an odd place, for the most random and nearly pointless discussions on practically anything.
One more random, possibly pointless musing before I sign off: The hens laid eggs. They hadn't stopped, by the way. It's just that I took a picture, because I found them to be particularly beautiful. In truth, I always find them to be particularly beautiful, so there really is nothing to distinguish this event from all the other times I gathered eggs.

Okay.

Happy October!

Ready or not, open the door and welcome in the possibilities, the messy, busy, urgent things, and hopefully the soothing, inspiring, joyful things, too. I know I am stalling, hesitant. But time presses on, doesn't it? Oh my goats.

September Farm

Chickenblog.com - Wed, 09/29/2021 - 12:30
The light is changing. It's softer, diffused. Hard edges get a glow, and soft edges are a bit luminous. Maybe it's the angle of the sunlight, coming in lower. Maybe it's the overcast mornings, the deep marine layer, which has even brought rain. Maybe it's wishful thinking, my annual longing for any sign of fall. Happily, this year wishes are coming true, and we have had cool days, cooler nights, mists, and breezes. I have yet to see more than one tree at a time changing color, when I would love to see an entire grove or forest. But show me one branch of orange or yellow, or just dying leaves, and I feel a giddy surge of wonder, awe. Ada is dressed for sweater weather in her golden caramel coat. She looks like a pumpkin spiced emissary, a harbinger of autumn, brisk mornings, warm mugs of favored beverages, handcrafting gifts, hygge, and nostalgia.
Some of the hens are molting, which is never a good look. Sometimes they molt very late in fall, and I feel worried for their chicken skin in the cold. They look humilitated, but it's never been fatal. I wonder if this early molt could be a sign that our fall will continue to be cool, that winter will come sooner, colder. Maybe? Maybe I am just doing more of that wishful thinking, longing to anticipate and enjoy continued good weather... rain, fog, storms, those brisk mornings.

I might go back out and sit a long while with the goats. What I would like is to stay long enough for Grace to kind of lose interest in me, so I can get more pictures of her. She is so energetic! And she's big. Bigger. She looks like a grown up goat, but still with her baby voice and enthusiam. It's not easy getting a focused photograph of her. She zooms in and pushes me, or she bolts and frolics, so I can only capture blurs and butt shots. Her youthful exuberance has influenced Tasha and Ada, who have more spring, more gambol since Grace moved in. When all three goats are out on the lawn, we all feel more spring and gambol. It's fun to be around happy goats, to feel their cheer.
Emma Thompson, our dowager hen, a Cuckoo Marans from the 2013 chicas.

Chickens, and goats, and cats in the house. That's our farm in September. Those dears, and some volunteer spoon tomatoes around the yard, and the last of the passionfruit which I should turn into curd. All that, and happy memories, and a few ideas, like planting a mandarin tree, filling in the old, broken pool, and upgrading the septic system with pits, to replace the leach field. Okay, not romantic, pretty farm talk, there! However! Once we do make a few improvements, we will have some options around bigger plans and hopes for this Big Blue House, our Bird House and Farm. One step at a time, and moving forward... it makes me eager to make this report, again, next September.

Friendly Fall Inspiration

Chickenblog.com - Tue, 09/28/2021 - 09:51

An abundance of autumn beauty from Puanani, at Alberta Hen House, in Portland. She posted a beautiful scene and sent me more pictures, which I love. The colors and textures, the different material she used, all of it so skillfully arranged, have me breathless with seasonal bliss! This sort of decorating would tempt me to visit a pumpkin farm, or craft fair, or wish for a big autumn bouquet, but she's leveled up, bringing all of the beauty and inspiration to her own home, and I feel inspired to try something similar. I will be on the lookout for fallen leaves! I wish I had sunflower heads, but maybe I can add pinecones.

This is a post inspired by a bit of Fall activity... not my own, but that of some talented and inspiring folk. I've been enjoying their recent activities and figured you might like them, too. I am putting a cart before the horse, by not asking permission to use their images. Apologies... I can't help myself. Do you mind, Alicia? May I share, Puanani?
Does this make you want to play, too? It's like large scale floral arranging, and I am captivated by her results. Puanani probably found lots of good materials in her own lovely garden, and she is crediting her local nursery, Bloke PDX. You guys, they have something called a "Pumpkin Palace!" I'd love to pop over! On a smaller scale, though no less delightful, Posie Gets Cozy is restocked with new, and old, Autumn Designs for sale. This is her latest cross-stitch offering in a seasonal series, called "The Mist and All." I am so tempted! Somehow, I was rational and resisted, until I saw this design! I love them all, but The Leaves By Hundreds Came broke my resistance. Surely, I will get the house clean, remember to cook and pay bills, and do a teeny cross-stitch? Right? If I thought I could do all things, then I would add The Mist and All, too, and this next one... The Things of Autumn, because Alicia Paulson makes Autumn Things even more breathtaking, and of course, cozy. Posie's shop is full of kits and gifts, and inspiration, for any season.One more link, and a last bit of inspiration... I would love to see portraits of friends, like Puanani's, in your gardens, in places that make you smile, and fill you with delight. Sit beside your pumpkins, beneath a tree, with your cat, or with an armful of the last flowers of the season, and get your picture taken. I would love to see you smiling.

Clearing Some Cobwebs

Chickenblog.com - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 10:50
Anna Pugh
She is one of my favorite artists. I love her subjects, the colors she uses, and the textures she adds. I love the imaginative details interwoven with realism, how it blends gracefully, lovingly. "Acrylic on Board," read the details, but I am convinced there is more, that she has something in her possession, something that lends more than paint, canvas, skill and time. I sense fabric, fluid, motion, unknown media, rare matter. Someday, I would love to see an original painting of hers, and get close up to the acrylic and board. I have some of her prints, and have seen others. But I know, with art, the real thing is always something far better, more compelling, and the idea makes me certain that seeing her art in person would be wonderful.

This image is a screen shot from my phone. I don't have any idea where I grabbed it from, or when. Actually, I have started saying aloud, "I don't know. I can't remember," and I follow up with a certainty, "It must have happened in 2018, or before." Other than the times I have mentioned the issue of memory loss here, I hardly speak of it. Probably most of my friends do not know. I had hoped it would get better, or something, but I am regularly reminded of gaps, holes, blank pages. It's a sad, hard thing alone, that unfortunately also brings to mind the collision, the other losses, and challenges. If I need to come to terms with it, somehow, I am amused about movies and TV shows that I can watch again and find practically brand new. If I saw a show before the event, then I might know that I have seen it, like it's kind of familiar, otherwise details, plot, even the ending, are as though I had not seen the movie. Well, that was a funny/welcome (kind of) chance in the Stay At Home Season of lockdown, when watching movies was one of the things that I could do for amusement, because lots of repeat things could be enjoyed like they were new. Sometimes I am reminded that getting a little absent minded comes with age, it's normal, but this is different, believe me. It's not as bad navigating the blank spots since we are mostly at home, but the worst times are when someone knows me, and I have absolutely no idea who they are... not just "Oh, darn, what is his name? It's on the tip of my tongue." No, I am looking at a stranger who is often looking a bit hurt or confused at my reaction, because I cannot place them, at all. Those were people I met, had in my home, hung out with, but they were newer friends, people I met within 18 months or so of that thing. The blog has helped, and one of my children might fill in the gaps, and thankfully my brain is at least receptive, and their anecdotes, or my blog posts, and photographs are like found pieces of the puzzle that I can use to fill in what, until that moment, I wasn't aware was missing. It is weird. And at times distressing. Even the screenshot... popping up in the iPhone "remember this" feature, was a bit of a confounding torment. So, here I am blogging about it, trying to make it fit in my brain puzzle.
He is so handsome, our Cairo. Here he is in my studio, stretched out across two file boxes, looking languid, slightly noble. Here I want to say Ta Da! This whole area, upstairs, has been... well, let's not mince words: In a dreadful state, for a dreadful long time. But William and I have conquered the beast! It is slain, and discharged! Mostly. We have at least one carload of donation destined boxes, and more to come. Lots. More. To. Come. We are on a mission to make space for another bedroom, and space. Just more space. More space and less stuff. These are the goals. I am easily discouraged both by the tasks ahead of me, and by the realization of all that I have not confronted, managed, addressed, tended in the last... oh, say 1,022 days, more or less. I wonder, and help me out if you can... can we admit what has interfered, or hindered our well being, our mental and physical capabilities, be open about it, without making it part of our identity? And here I am muddled and sorting it out, still. I have been trying to heal, to get over it, to deny, suppress, avoid, all things accident related, because I worry that I will sound obessive, that I will entwine Me, my identity, limits, and abilties, with something that happened to me. Okay, but my avoidance, downplaying method is not working. Something bad did happen, and it took a long, protacted, complicated, and badly managed time to get through the civil and criminal components, and the many physical and emotional circumstances are still an issue... so, as much as I do not want to become "accident victim," I am not who I was before that thing. I am changed, hurt, healing, confused, challenged, different. I can't tell if things are a mess with me, around me, because of injuries and compromised emotional/brain things, or because I have not managed the road to wellness, or something I am not recognizing, doing? I am embarrassed saying all of this, yet encouraged by the impulse to try and get it right, because I see things are not working, and I do want to be better.
I am glad it's fall. Happy Fall! Eventually, this season, I will write another post about all the things and feelings, and concepts I love about this season. I do it every year. I can't help myself. In the meantime, I would like to share some fall love and insight, from Nailah Blades, coach and speaker. She brought new thoughts and comforting ideas, that fit nicely into my brain puzzle, about what this season can be, for change, for letting go, for quiet reflection or even hibernation. And, I just like the way I feel when I listen to her.

The blue tea is natural, and the color comes from butterfly pea flowers, and Adagio Teas makes a blend with lemongrass that tastes like, get this: Fruit Loops, but not sweet. Is that weird? And cool? Maybe you have never had Fruit Loops, or don't remember, or would never! But if you know, you know. It's fun. I drank mine almost cool, and found it refreshing. It's like a lemon drink but skipping the acidic aspect of lemon, so it doesn't need sweetning sweetening. It's a smooth, floral lemon-like tea. And it's blue, unless you add actual lemon juice, in which case it turns deep pink! No dyes, just lovely tea magic. Bambi makes it especially for a full moon. Did you see the Harvest Moon?

The Picnic is Back!

Chickenblog.com - Tue, 09/21/2021 - 10:34
Well. That was easy! We finally had one of our picnics, like the first one, that I posted about four years ago, when I wrote: I don't know when my life got so complicated or off-track that the idea to enjoy a picnic feels "inspired" or rare, but if you are like me, and can't remember the last time you visited a park, met friends there, and just hung out while everyone did their thing... do it! No one has to be the host, or do all the heavy lifting, and even the fact that we set a start and finish time, made it feel fun, without encroaching on the whole day. Ok... so, I am easily impressed, not hard to amuse, I know. But seriously... life needs more "easy," more low-agenda, relaxed get togethers. Drop by, sit back, run around, picnic with us... we'll be doing this again, real soon. Matt with Lily. Olivia chatting with Ido and Spencer. Logan, his dad, Mark, and Taco the dog. Ruth, Geoff, Alex, Max and Maria went on a hike... can you spot them atop the lookout tower? Lucas and Max Ruth made the vegan protein snacks we love! And when Leslie and Bex arrived, directly from Scout camp, they came with pies! Olivia baked cookies! Ido made sushi! And there were games, crafts, happy dogs, balls to toss, and ideas to share. We fell into our happy, easy and familiar picnic routines, and it was almost as though hadn't been 19 months since we last gathered like this. Lily, Matt, Mark, Olivia, Diana, Leslie, Bex, and Simon. Show and Tell... Ido brought out his shiny new pickle ball paddle. Taco was a good boy. Akira was a good boy. Everyone was having a good time.
My camera shy sweetheart. He was very good, too. Every picnic has lasted a little longer than the last. I remember the last picnic, and being astonished that we were at the park from 10:30 until 4 pm. We played and played and played, this time from 10 am until 5:40 pm! And we all agreed, we will definitely meet again, next month.

As much as I enjoyed our first picnic, it was two years before I organized the next one! Even after the long pause, the second gathering was as gratifying as the first, so I committed to keeping it going... and we had a November picnic, I am pretty sure I didn't post our January 2020 picnic, and so here are some highlights...
This was the first time Matt and his girls joined us, with their puppy, Zulu! And we all learned what a proper picnic packing enthusiast Matt is! And Leah baked a cake, which Bex helped her frost with Nutella! We brought out Mölkky, which is a fun lawn game that Susie suggested we get. Carol, Leslie and I took turns keeping score, and keeping turns, and laughing. Paul brought a laser cut craft for assembling, and there were many hands to help with that. Clearly, we had this picnic thing fine tuned and worthwhile, and so we met, again, in February... and that turned out to be our last picnic before lockdown. We switched to other socially distanced, outdoor, masked, amd wary gatherings, in the meantime. But The Picnic is Back! Here are some highlights from February 2020... One condition of Picnic Day: Excellent weather! It might be overcast, or cold, perhaps warm and breezy, but rain is not allowed! We've been fortunate. No rain, no injuries, no food poisoning, no citations. This time Armand came, and Matt brought a friend (I'll have to be reminded of his name.) Spencer brought back his BeyBlades, and I am pretty sure I brought mine, too, because he got me hooked. Tutu and Holly joined us, so did Diana, Charles, Lucas, Carol and Grace, and Leah and Lily, and Zulu! I love that once the invitation goes out, there is nothing to fuss about, or manage... come when you can, bring what you like, stay a while or all day. Easy, and magically simple. One thing that stands out about this "last" picnic was that on the hike, Alex, Leslie and I immersed ourselves in a serious discussion about what about this talk of a lockdown? Alex is my go-to for disaster preparedness, and Leslie, being a physician, had some strong views and good intuition about what could be coming. We talked about being prepared, and we tried to imagine what this might entail, for how long. I will always be thankful for this talk, and the steps we took in anticipation. And I will always be thankful for the community we solidified, and relied on, through our picnic days and other gatherings. The last couple of years have been easier because of friends, and our community, and as much as we have taken care to stay safe and well, even finding new ways of hanging out, we are so glad the picnic is back!

A Little Bit of September

Chickenblog.com - Fri, 09/17/2021 - 12:11
However strong my convictions are about retiring, or if I think I am on the brink of breaking an old habit, something comes up that cannot be resisted, like the Moon rising with Venus, Mercury, or bringing home the first pumpkin of the season, the sight of storm clouds towering in the east, so what other choice do I have? I have to share. And the pumpkin was good motivation for clearing off the dining table, and preparing some special dinners. Then I even cleaned the window paint off of the entry sidelights... yes, the Christmas window paint, up since December 4th. In my defence, the paint held up very well, and it was cheery. So, here you have it... a little bit of September, from watching the sky to Windex and elbow grease. Actually, this feels nice... I do wish we could get together over tea, and Maria's cranberry orange scones, and enjoy a long, slow, thorough chat.

Dear Diary

Chickenblog.com - Mon, 09/13/2021 - 10:36
It occurs to me that I could carry on blogging, but without the sense of failure and embarrassment about obscurity, if I imagined this, the Blog, is my diary, a personal journal. Still digital. Still chock full of photographs, and me over thinking and over sharing. And, this would be the difference... I "forget" to change the settings to "private." It's a deception, a bit of duping my own brain, which, sadly, is not hard to do. Actually, it is the belief that I am obscure, well below the radar, that emboldens me to share ideas like this, revealing my (slight) obsesssion with my blogging, anonymity, and insignificance in social media, not too mention my highly questionable use of commas, everywhere. Is it too much? I mean, with the commas? Objectively, I really, really, really appreciate the anonymity, versus how terrifying it would be to be noticed, then scrutinized, critiqued, possibly trolled. The dread fear of someone disrupting my life, to judge my grammar, or use my posts in an article about how not to blog... I feel ill. I have been fortunate, I see that. It occurs to me, in this digital age of high speed exposure, that it could be time to go back to letter writing, and printing, to sealed envelopes, photo albums on a bookshelf. I wish I was not so enarmoured of how pretty high definition photographs look, formatted and illuminated on a large monitor, and the way words and expression, long descriptions, and transcribed details, minutiae, chronology, feel like a well ordered home, a place to catch me if I am falling. And, here I really put my heart squarely on my sleeve... I had hoped to feel as though I was successful, so that the ones who did criticize me would say, "Ah, she did make something of her writing, afterall." Or the bloggers, the good ones, the shiny ones, that could have reciprocated, or nodded my direction, might have included me, shared some of what they extolled and saluted, like "community" and "inclusion." I am closer than ever to a place I think would be good, where I value my writing and photographs more than recognition, and inclusion. I had hoped to be a part of something bigger, after all of this time and effort, but now, after all this time and effort, I may be happier to retreat.

Country Roads

Chickenblog.com - Thu, 09/09/2021 - 10:31

We made a small day trip, with a picnic, and hats for shade. It was beautiful, and the lunch we packed was delicious. We enjoyed the views, and trekking around, but... I think our favorite part was driving back West, as the temperatures fell with every mile until we were home, again! Somewhere enroute it was 97° F, and we simply have not been acclimating to those temperatures. Oof! So, yes, we saw birds and hiked a bit, we took deep breaths of mountain air, admired oaks, manzanita, old barns, and country roads, but I don't think we will be returning until hot Summer gives way to cool Fall.

I have been mindfully practicing not complaining about the weather. I will note the temperature, or whether or not it is raining, but as I am aware that the world is overcome with some truly awful weather, and other disasters, I want to zip it when it comes to hyperbolic weather whining... (even though it has been shown to afford modicums of relief to briefly, occasionally rant.) While we were coping with thermoregulation in Julian, for instance, Bambi was in New Jersey, where the remants of hurricane Ida was blowing through, and our weather woes pale in comparison with tornadoes and flooding. Thankfully, Bambi and Gordon, and the rest of her family, were all safe.

More weather talk? Mind you, I am not complaining. I can't help, though, noting that this has been an odd summer. Really odd. There has been practically no heat near the coast. And I don't want to tempt fate, because I honestly have loved it, but it's like waiting for the other shoe to drop, and I dread the prospect of suddenly having a blazing autumn. I hate to ask, When is the heat coming? It's been humid, overcast, and we have had more than one good rain, even thunder and lightning... unheard of conditions in August, September. In fact, many days this summer it's looked on the verge of a downpour. Did I mention, I love it? The question, well another question, is: Is this unseasonal, or is this a new normal? Will summers be this way in a trending way, or are we going to remember 2021 as that anomaly year for local weather?

I wonder how many times in September I have written a blog post about how eager I am for Fall, for classic fall weather, and to feel the whole Hollywood treatment, with sweaters, boots, fallen leaves, brisk breezes, and oversized mugs of warm drinks? It's kinda happening, people. We may have even set up a display with our ceramic barn and Halloween figures. William is tuning-up the Cat, and I am going to make meatloaf for dinner, again. It's never cool enough for meatloaf in September. This is magic.
From Instagram, where I am curating my own therapy, affirmations, and safety-net. Yes, there are social media pitfalls, but. Well, some of it is gold. For instance, Marina's post, of her beautiful yarn... and she posed a question that kind of broke through my foggy, muddled head. "What are you working on?" And her question stayed with me, compelled me. I finally sat down, and made up my mind to do something. Something with paper. Something with a pencil. I kind of went back to the beginning, when I reminded myself to start, without obsessing, without judgement, without worrying about making something "good." Starting can be as hard as the doing. I am glad I saw your post, @heartbunknitsandmore. Actually, I would like to take this moment to thank all of the creators I follow on Instagram. Thank you, for making art, for sharing memes, and making Reels, thank you for posting your selfie, whether you did it doubtfully or boldly. Thank you for explaining about advocating for racial equity, Marie Beecham. And No Ordinary Moment, thank you for opening up about your journey through grief, with heartfelt expression, in words and intuitive art. Oh dear... I always have this impulse to start sharing my gratitude and highlighting everyone I admire and appreciate, and then I realize I am going to get in over my head! There are so many talented, kind, generous, inspiring, even challenging people sharing their journeys, their missions, and passion for justice, for art, for the environment, for human connection! I want to highlight dozens and dozens, a hundred or more. And I don't want a friend, or aquaintance to feel left out. It makes me sad to leave people out, for them to think I didn't think of them. Ok, so know this, if I am following someone on IG, as ChickenBlogger, or as BoomNerds, then I like your message, or your humor, or you are helping me figure things out, expanding my view, making me think, giving me hope. Thank you.
It's been awhile. I have a long list of excuses. Reasons? Well, stuff has been in the way of me doing things I enjoy, and quite possibly it is me, in the way. Maybe time off from creating isn't neglect, but rest, being restorative. I miss crocheting, sewing, quilting, painting, sketching, cooking something better than basic, making big plans, gatherings, hosting, playing, sharing. We know... don't we? We know the world is stranger, harder to navigate, not so familiar, because we are each negotiating, with what's safe, appropriate, comfortable. Sometimes, the hardest part is observing some people carrying on as though there isn't a pandemic, climate crisis, etc etc etc. I remind myself that we have our own paths, and our own desires and things that are essential, and obligations that are requisite differ from person to person. But, please, wear a mask. And don't recall the governor of California. You don't have to enjoy the mask, or like the governor, but the alternatives are actually much worse, the consequences are not worth the tantrum acts of so called defiance.

How fairy mice with flower petal wings, and fern tendrils in bell jars appear, when my head is full of angst... I can't explain. I have set my pencil to paper with fury or indignation, intent to release rage or sorrow through art, and for my effort I get cherubic ratty-rats, and mossy forests with acorn lanterns, and cats in cardigans. It brings to mind every Halloween when all I wanted was to be something pretty, or sweet, or lovely, or funny. I think it's because scary, uncertainty, fear, pain, were too accessible, too close at hand in my experience. The worlds of whismy are the escape, the departure from reality, the make-believe of comfort, and safety, and I've never known them to be bland or dull, not common, not familiar. I have a craving for sweetness, and gentle moments. And I think, Don't underestimate this ratty-rat in button down sweater, with wide eyes, she is fierce, she is courageous, and righteous. She overcomes obstacles, and defies injustice, cruelty, to take tea from a sea-shell cup, and sit in company with her friends, the birds and the toads.

Geoff and I have been taking longer and longer bicycle rides. Lately, it's not unusual for us to ride twenty miles, or more. And my favorite part is when the last 3 or 4 miles become long talks, as we pedal north, then south, then north, again. We talk about the young folks, what they are up to, and what lies ahead. We talk about adding on to the workshop, building, designing, planning. We talk about going one direction, but then turning around, and starting another way. We talk about how fortunate we are, because even when we get off-track, we always want to go forward together. Yeah, that's figurative, and literal. I love our bike rides. I love our talks. I love Geoff, and how with him I feel lucky, I feel like my life is more, and better, than I imagined it could be.

It must be obvious, but I don't always know where these posts are going to head. Just now, I feel like I have been driving back country roads, and just narrating the sights, the big views, the immediate impressions, and concerns. On the left, we see some cows beneath oak trees, and ahead a bakery. Blogging is a funny thing.

Lingering and Accelerating

Chickenblog.com - Fri, 09/03/2021 - 10:43
When she was a baby, I would write down milestones about smiles, and sitting up, first shoes, or first steps. It's a pleasure to come across an old post, about any of the young folk, when I mentioned what they were talking about, interested in, how tall they'd gotten, what size shoes they were suddenly wearing. It's not something that ends when they are two, or four. They keep growing, well past 12, 17, 23, and it's such an honor, such a treasure to witness their becoming, evolving, what they love, how they engage, so I feel thankful about those notes I jot down. In a future time I will have a picture, made of words, reflections of who they were, at a moment in time, and it tends to recall even more moments, and happy times. Just now, I notice that she lingers. We pull up to the curb, in the long drop-off line, and she could hurry out at the street, or at any point along the driveway, but she lingers. We are usually deep in conversation about art, physics, literature, cake, or we are simply exchanging our terms of endearment, and I detect the mild irritation with time, the incessant ticking of school clocks, alarms, schedules. She lingers. Our eyes meet, and there is one more squeeze of hands, or assurances, "See you soon. I love you. Have fun learning!" It's seconds, only, but the mindfulness, the connection is eternal, penetrating. One of these days, I will reach for her hand, and tug her back into the van. We will drive away, and have a picnic, with books, paper and paints, and we will talk about the horizon, acceleration, what makes a good chai, and all the things that make us smile. One dining table, two cats, two pumpkins (last year's), a T-shirt, a big sheet of paper for taking notes and making plans, a grocery bag, two coats, three rocks, two acorns, some books on D & D, probably a few pencils, maybe a coffee mug. Yesterday I devoted time to matching clean socks, folding underwear, hanging shirts, and ordering a dinner to pick-up. I also rode 14 miles on my bicycle, with Geoff. We have increased our rides from 10 miles, to at least 12. Last week we rode 26.5 miles, 21 miles, 16 miles. Still neighborhood loops. Still up and down our street. I haven't calculated, lately, how far I've gotten on my ride to Boston. But, I know it's over 3,500 miles, so I could probably take a scenic route. It's a very big adventure, in my head. I enjoy a lot of big adventures, and ideals in my head, like being tidy, and fit, writing novels, painting daydreams, visiting the Red Woods with all of my loved ones, organizing a holiday closet, with a cupboard just for table cloths, giving away bicycles, and building things, ideas, dreams. In my head I am a much more capable, accomplished person. I have yet to be the equal, in real life, of my aspirational self. I let a pocketful of Smarties go through the wash, the dryer. I can't remember names, or the very important things on the list I made of very important things. I can't find the list. Ah! One more for the memory book... last night she confirmed with Max about a physics debate she had with a classmate, in which she argued that a ball falling in an arc from a table would drop at the same rate as a ball that fell straight down, and the boy insisted otherwise, that 'the ball dropping straight down would land first,' and Max was happy to affirm that Maria was correct. Physics is her favorite science subject, and I will just write that down, as though it were in her baby book of milestones and memories.
Max has loved both physics and math, as well as poetry, welding, forging, mentoring, teaching, Magic the Gathering, cooking, and music. I have something special to share. Max's internship is almost over. He has been programming for a gaming company all summer. It's been from home, with online activities for socialization, but mostly a lot of challenging experiences, learning new languages, and about corporate culture. This has been special enough, but the latest news is that he was offered the chance to stay, as a contract employee. He's accepted the offer. He's happy, and he's coping as he grows... graphics programmer was never his plan, or dream. He's always been diligent and focused on the task at hand: school, the next class, the next assignement, but without much certainty about what might come next, what could be possible. I shouldn't give the impression that he didn't think about these things, it's only that he wasn't committed to a particular career path. Now he is immersed in a field that is challenging, interesting, and gives him an opportunity to put into practice the skills and instincts he has to reason, to create, to solve problems, and share ideas, concepts, solutions. For my part, I love that he landed some place where he can put his skills to use, apply them and enjoy cutting edge opportunities to learn more, and all of this in an environment where he is appreciated by smart people who are considerate, creative, supportive, and encouraging.

It's his journey now, I know, and I am at risk of over-stepping... I don't assume I know everything he thinks or feels about this, but as a Mom, as someone who has been in his corner, advocating, hopeful, I feel joy, I feel relief, and gratification for this outcome. At some point our children, and all of the good and hard things we navigate with them, become seperate from us. For some families this is easier, or more defined... like when their children turn 18, or go off to college. When there is neurodiveristy involved, Autism, the lines blurr, the timeline will not be typical. We have always had to make our own way, and Max has honored me with an open, respectful, appreciative relationship. I don't intend to overshare what is his story, his personal details, but I will mark this time as meaningful to me, because we have come to a very good, and hard won place, overcoming societal obstacles, roadblocks, and challenges. Autism, in the end, was never as difficult to live with, as what the world expected, or refused to accomodate. It's no small accomplishment that Max is where he is, and after everything, this moment is sweeter than many could imagine.

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