Chicken Blog by Natalie

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Chickenblog.com - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 09:31
May 5~












In some ways it feels as though I've been time traveling, and not just in blog posts, but in life. Am I alone? Is anyone astounded that it is May? the other day, I resolved to do something to mark Easter, when I remembered that day has come, and gone. It's May. We have firmly established that it is spring, and Maria is counting how many Mondays of school are remaining. Max has already had mid-terms for his last quarter of his junior year. Geoff is through with crunch-time and the spring training deadline, and onto new projects and goals. William and I agreed, we should open the calendars to mark days, make plans, and ready ourselves for summer, for liberty, destinations, activities, excursions. Alex and Bambi are sharing a countdown, too, and soon they will be done with another semester of classes, and in Japan.

Even my own class will be over, soon, and so I am finishing oil paintings. Have I mentioned? I am in a beginning oil painting class? It started in January, no... it began in February. That seems a long way back, somehow. I am feeling sophomoric about oil painting. Finally, I am developing an understanding of how all the steps come together to complete a painting. The lessons and techniques make sense in a mechanical, rote sense, so at least I know what I am meant to do. But, knowing all of that makes executing the plan almost as hard as knowing nothing at all. It comes to practice, now, I suppose. I need so much more practice, and more than that, and so on.

My physical therapist has become a partner in my art. I see her twice a week, and she helps me recover, relearn, restore. I've learned exercises, means of managing my time and activities, so that I don't slip back into pain, and contortion, as much. Really, without her, I wouldn't be blogging, or painting, driving, making plans. When she works on my neck and shoulders, she knows whether I've been painting, in the garden, or just carrying around worry and aggravation. (Worry and aggravation... My countdown is for the trial, the State of California vs Drunk Lady Driver, and now that I've been subpoenaed and questioned by her attorney, a suited predator with all the appeal of a tick, I am prepared, like a cat, staring into the dark, tense, still, waiting... ready, yet vulnerable.)

I must remember to breath.

Breath, and paint, and walk, and watch for birds, learn their songs. The western bluebirds are back nesting in the birdhouse that hangs from the jacaranda. We watch them, the pair, fly back and forth to the nest, with food for the peeping babies. I wish we could see the babies, too. The father bird is such a blue, brilliant, and fanciful. The mother, wide-eyed and vigilant, seems tireless in her care. They are such a darling couple, a true set.

Cairo is watching birds, too. He has our balcony, now screened, and I've made perches for him, so he can look out, watch. Cairo and Chango keep me company there. As long as we have this spring weather, not too cold, nor windy, nor wet, then I can paint on the balcony. It's become a cat's nest and studio.
In fact, it's so comfortable I almost don't dread the heat of late summer. I like to suppose that with all the windows and doors open, we will have breezes and cross ventilation, and summer will be only hot and bright, not scorching and mad.

May 6~














Yes, like time traveling. I look at these pictures, reminders of changes we've made, improvements, projects completed. We've been so immersed in all of our undertakings, and now the sawdust is settling, the paint drying, and I look around and feel a bit astounded, wondering when did all of this happen? Well, it all happened recently. And, as easy as pie, our Bird House is a Blue Bird House! At last it is painted, and it only took 5 years... laugh out loud, and totally worth it.

William, on our calendars, let's make a note about harvesting apples and apricots. Maybe we should plan a garden party. We can invite friends over to pick fruit and make preserves, and pies. All for sharing.

So much has happened recently, and there is more to look forward to. My thoughts and intentions are traveling back in time, and forward, and for the present, there is much to do...

Up To Date

Chickenblog.com - Fri, 03/29/2019 - 08:49
"Up to date" might be overstating it, but Geoff installed a new hard drive on our computer, and dusted stuff off, updated software, kicked tires etc... and now everything is working at a lightning pace. I would stick around and blog all day, except I am due at art class. I leave you with Cairo, proudly inspecting and improving the latest acquisition. This furniture piece represents my unceasing determination to find order and refinement in our home. It is a humble, and unique entry catch-all... for keys, phones, wallets, mail, gears, paint, yarn, flashlights, cats.
Thank you, and good day.

March 20-27 Rain and Flowers

Chickenblog.com - Wed, 03/27/2019 - 15:51

March 20 ::


This picture, and post, give some indication that I am closing in on catching up with myself, and bringing the blog up to date with current posts. I drew it during a hard week, after hard months, but I was so elated to be drawing at all.


After the major parts of our interior home improvements were done, and Mike was working on improvements outside, I slowly began thinking about how to arrange furnishings, and art, and stuff. And the stuff is the hardest part.




It feels like this month is for rain, flowers, and settling in, and I love it. In fact when I do feel any disappointment about all of the rain we've had, it's because I worry that next year we will be back in a drought, that we can't count on this weather being a regular part of our climate. Do I need to move north and west? Day after day of rain and clouds has been sheer delight. I would love to grow accustomed to this.

March 21 ::
Thursday, and normally she would be wearing a witch hat, because Witch Thursday, but in Japanese she is practicing conversation about articles of clothing, including berets. Maybe she is a French witch. There is never enough time at drop-off, when we want to share one more laugh, one more word of encouragement. I miss our days of home-schooling, the time together, our lessons and outings, her company. She loves Japanese, and metals. (Be my guest and read between the lines, here... not all of her classes are above par, or even middling.) Some days we take deep breaths and vow to relish our summer, when school will not hinder with her education.


March 23 ::











By the weekend we were all ready to getaway, see fresh sights. We drove east and north, and further east. One winding road led to another and soon we were in Julian, where it was daffodil season, and in the town hall, they were having a flower show. Julian is out in our local mountains, once a mining town, now an apple pie and flower show town. It's not so far away, but it's far enough to awaken the senses, and make me nostalgic.

March 24 ::








It has rained a lot this month of March, but not everyday, so on this sunny day, we let the chickens and goats out into the open yard. The goats are capable of trampling flowers, and doing terrible damage, but really it's a matter of keeping an eye on them, and occasionally redirecting their interests. When Tasha goes after those long rose branches, she's honestly doing me a favor. She is actually quite adept when it comes to pruning roses.



As the date for the first hearing approached, I struggled to feel safe, confident. I had been bracing myself for months, practicing affirmations, and reasoning that there was nothing to fear, or worry about. In spite of my earnest thoughts and practices, I also dealt with mean thoughts (March 18, 2019: Maybe I am relieved to not be blogging, because I hate the moment that, inevitably, arises when I feel compelled to share something of the accident, the one back in December. How can I help it? It clouds my head, still, and gives me nightmares, pain, anxiety, and a stutter. Not a very bad one, because I find that if I speak slowly, or not at all, it's not so noticeable. On Saturday, I cried half a day, because I was served another subpoena. It's "only" 2 different hearings/trials, but they keep changing the dates, and then comes a new subpoena. And do you know what troubles me? What will I wear? Because... "first impressions" and all that, and really, I cannot go dressed comfortably, as myself, in jeans and a t-shirt that says "Take a bus, you drunk fool." No. I will have to go and face her and her attorney, dressed as me, myself, and I am sorry to say that I will appear as a gray, fat, old woman, that flinches when doors slam, or cars honk. I would rather stay home.) In the end, it was simpler than I expected, and worse than I imagined. Her attorney was accusing and intrusive. I'll have to deal with him, again, as a witness for the state, in June. So, I practice affirmations and reasoning that I have nothing to fear, and I smell the flowers, and enjoy the rain.


(This post was back-blogged on May 25, 2019.)

Other Plans

Chickenblog.com - Tue, 03/26/2019 - 09:29

Things are not working... but then again, some things are working. It's just frustrating to make plans and set goals, and then be derailed by leaking pipes, janky computers, temperamental hard drives, and PTSD. My physical therapist is booked this week, and I am not seeing my emotional/brains therapist until next week. Our kitchen sink is leaking, and the hen that I thought had made a happy recovery suddenly died. Rest in peace, Fiona. I could share more, but I think it would be best if I simply made other plans. And, I would like to add... the time and inclination, the support and opportunity to make other plans is golden, a blessing, a tremendous wealth of good fortune. So, there it is... I am thankful to have the space and time to see that today I need to make new plans. I may go look at birds, a happy suggestion from my sweetheart.

Lofty Bird House Improvements, Part II

Chickenblog.com - Fri, 03/22/2019 - 14:08
Of all the stages of our lofty improvements, I am not sure which was more unnerving... the open window:


Or the open landing to the floor below!

But for all we went through to get a new room built over the entry to our home, we never had a moment's regret or doubt. And if you're up for it, we can continue with how it all came to happen.

March 12...
We left with Cairo peering out of the gaping hole where our big window used to be. Mike got it out, all in one piece, and we were already reveling in the wonderful off-shore breeze, the songs of the birds. And this is when I took Cairo into our bedroom for his own, and the birds', safety.







There's a lot more work to be done... frame the window, inside and out, finish the wall with drywall, texturing and paint, replace the second, smaller window by the stairs, and then tackle the rotted beams, siding, and trim on the outside of the whole house before painting it. And even though there are no more open windows or stairwells, Cairo still finds ways to act crazy!

March 13...
Mike is always super considerate, so the protective sheets go back up, and he gets the new drywall textured, then painted.

Just for fun, and since we were out of Thai Basil green, I went darker, and the third wall is painted Behr Vine Leaf.

Suddenly! In less than 3 weeks our idea is a finished space. I love how the darker shade of green frames the window and view. Geoff chose the Ikea Billy bookcase and added their smart lighting... which we can operate and time with an app on our phone.

Suddenly! No more broken steps, and shedding carpet. No more giant, closed, and inaccessible window. No more "grand" entry with useless 20 foot ceiling! Suddenly we have a beautiful and inviting space, with fresh air breezing in, and a cozy sofa long and deep enough for napping, wide enough for company. Cairo is certain all of this was done for his pleasure. We are certain this is all wonderful.

March 14...





Eunice's roses. They were hanging in the stairwell, but now I am rethinking all of it... and enjoying slowly settling in.


There, I think the roses might look nice on the new wall.

It's going to take a while to put things back in order... new or old. It's a luxury figuring it all out, and enjoying what we have.



There's still more getting done, but this seems like a nice place to take a break...

Lofty Bird House Improvements, Part I

Chickenblog.com - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 09:40

Four years ago we met a man we affectionately and respectfully call Magic Mike. He was the one that turned my dream of screening our porch, adding a roof, a reality. He repaired the leak into our living room, and we got that room completely updated, too. And it's hard to believe that was 4 years ago! Ever since then we have been in line, waiting for Mike to be available again. In the meantime we have been tackling repairs and making improvements ourselves, but wishing for good help, and hoping to make some bigger dreams come true. The house has some desperate, urgent needs, like a roof, and paint, and some more fanciful possibilities...

One weekend, in February, Geoff got an email, from Mike... I'm available! See you Wednesday. I am paraphrasing, but it was just about that sudden, and we were both excited and gobsmacked. Knowing that he could do anything, that we had only days to prepare, we did not want to waste a golden opportunity. We had to decide on what to ask him to do, get materials, have plans, be certain, get ready... it was panic and delight!

We went around the house making lists, debating options. Our big-big-big dream is to add on and up to the garage, expanding the workshop space below, and living space above, and the prospect of seeing this done, is thrilling, but it didn't take too much reasoning to realize that we were not prepared. This would take engineering and planning that we were not ready for. So, then we took a long, hard look at our entry, and a lofty idea I've been suggesting and hoping for...


I don't know if I've ever posted, or even taken, any pictures of our entry, and when I took this picture, it dawned on me that it's not just an unfortunate design, but that I really, really do not like it. Here are the problems... the closed and inaccessible window faces the setting sun, and acts like a greenhouse, overheating the upstairs in summer. The high, open ceiling captures all the heat in winter. Our neighbors have a ginormous screen view into our home through a window that is a pain to clean. The railing and opening below makes me uncomfortable. And here is what I have dreamt of as a solution: Create a room above the entry, change the window to something smaller that we can open. I long for the open window, the cross-ventilation, and option for privacy.



Okay... so tentatively we were closing in on ideas. The small window, going upstairs, is sitting in rotted wood, and needs replacing, the stairs were improperly cut to fit carpeting that is disintegrating and awful, the screened porch is hard to keep clean, so adding a low wall would be a boon, and maybe we can turn the entry into small loft, with a window that opens, and hopefully-fingers-crossed we can get the whole outside of the house painted. Plus I was thinking of tacking on another wish... screen the balcony off our room. It's where the original living room ceiling leak originated, and was a wasted space and eye-sore. It was Sunday night and we had a long list of possible projects for Magic Mike, and he was coming Wednesday.

Geoff wasn't sure putting a floor in the entry would be a good idea... it might leave the downstairs, dark and cave-like, it might be too complicated, it might be too low going up the stairs... too many mights.

But Mike said, "Yeah. This could work." And it began... he brought out his laser, and then we were all on board!

February 21...



We're really doing this!

It's like the first snip of a haircut, where you've decided to go really short! All of the second-thoughts and doubts are irrelevant and there's no where to go, except ahead! And the thing is, Mike works so fast, there is no time for doubt. We would go to school, or work, or just to the market and every time we returned our fanciful idea was turning into something real!









February 23...
By the end of Mike's second work day, we had can-lights, a sub-flooring, wiring, and... oh yeah, a whole new room developing!

For the first time, we could stand here and look there. It seemed improbable.


February 24...


It did not take long to see that none of our concerns were issues to worry over... the entry, with lighting and the sidelight windows, still felt bright, and open, the floor above did nothing to interfere with going upstairs. Really, the only challenge was keeping ahead of Mike with materials and new ideas. We had to decide on how to finish the railing, about paint, texturing, mill work, window trim, ordering flooring, and what to do with the new space. Lots of fun, and challenging, too.

February 25...
So funny to have imagined what a room would be like here, and to anticipate the view out the window, but the real surprise was seeing the rest of the house from the new space. We realized that facing the hallway gave a new feeling and look to the entire upstairs space, so we needed to consider all of it as one room, not just the new room.

February 26...
Not even one week since this started... and we were still figuring out our plan, as Mike worked. I honestly, was so relieved to be rid of the carpeting, I would be happy to paint the plywood and call it an upgrade! So, the carpet is out and so are the railings that enclosed the landing. Seeing it open like this, we were intrigued with the idea of keeping it open, even adding stairs, so we could go up directly from the hall or the front door. But how to finish the hall side? And what about paint colors?












New steps. A new rail. And a king to live under the stairs. All in a day's work.

February 28...


The king was William's idea. Under the stairs, deep in his mine, lives a wee king with some treasure. He is a 3D printed time capsule, of sorts.

Long live the king.

We've suspected for a long time that Chango is deaf, and this project confirms it... saws, nail guns, sanders, hammers, drills... nothing of these has phased or rattled our dear old man cat.

And nothing has slowed Mike down. After just one week, Mike is already installing trims and mill work. He was able to re-purpose all of the trims and railings, adjusting and modifying where necessary. We cannot believe how beautifully all of this is coming together.

March 4...



Outside, the screened porch got the lapped siding, which we hope will reduce dampness and dust. Inside, Mike is getting ready for the flooring, and finishing the railing on the landing, with drywall and trims. And everyone wants to know... Natalie, have you decided on the paint?

Cairo, help me choose? Not just colors, but which walls to include for new color, and which walls to keep "white." Only, it's not strictly white, so how are we going to match it?


I was delighted to have Mike take some matters into his own hands. He picked a white, Divine Pleasure. It's brighter than the original white, and looks lovely.


The winner is: Behr Thai Basil for the 3 entry walls, and the same walls upstairs.



And we are still trying on ideas for the purpose and furnishings for the new space.

March 6...
This is the book that I am proud of. It's one of those rare instances when I do the thing that I know I ought to do... like keeping a record of the paint chips we use, the order numbers for flooring, and windows, and ideas, inspiration, lists, and plans. I love the book. I wish I had a book for the rest of my life.


The book, and my Pinterest boards, is where I turned when I needed to make decisions about the balcony. My wish was granted, and the open balcony got screened in. Now we can keep mosquitos out, and cats in, and we can enjoy one more possibility for cooling the house in summer. But there is still potential for improvement here... and so I have to make more paint decisions...


Back to the loft... the flooring arrived, and has had time to sit, so it adjusts to the house's temperature and humidity. Mike is ready to install. And... it doesn't "match," but that's cool. We didn't hope to make a perfect match, so we simply chose the wood we could afford, like, and enjoy. In a sense, that makes it a perfect match, actually.


Customs cuts... Mike made a great finish of our crazy request to have stairs wrap around the landing, requiring mitered cuts to soften the corner. It's looking beautiful!

March 8...



What will the new space be? Answer: a sitting room, a nest, a book nook, a cozy corner.

March 9...



We are waiting on the windows, but not waiting to enjoy the new space. It feels like it was always this way.




No, kitty!

Ok... I did say this was Part I, so if you haven't had enough of our dust and indecisions, already, please come back soon for the big finish!



March 12-19 Clouds, Skates, Flowers and Friends

Chickenblog.com - Wed, 03/20/2019 - 08:26


Maria looking going into school looking like a well-dressed and inspiring physics teacher.


Spirit week at school, and today's theme: Dress as Your Favorite Teacher. Technically, George S is retired, but he's been a family favorite most of Maria's life, so she donned the beret in his honor.






Happy Birthday, Izzy. At Skate World.



We are so glad this San Diego landmark was saved from being replaced with a big box store. Izzy and her friends marched in support of this favorite spot, and our friends Ido and Leslie testified before the city council, with Simon, Bex, and Spencer... great save, everyone!




(This post was back-blogged on May 21, 2019.)

Wabi-Sabi, Goats and Chickens

Chickenblog.com - Tue, 03/19/2019 - 09:38
January 16~

Wabi-sabi... imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete is the perfect description of my state of being, and blogging. It's all uncertainty, and missteps, wariness, and a timidity about most everything. But I am so fixed and determined on recovery, on reclaiming activities, making plans, feeling confident, overcoming.

I decided to begin simply, and without too much concern about what's left unsaid. I am frequently comparing myself with how I used to do things, or what I imagine I would have been doing, if... but that's only building up a wall, an obstacle that keeps me from trying anything. Maybe I have a new normal, maybe I will find my way back to before, but even as I type that, I can see that we never really do go back to before. It's March, a new year, and life is wabi-sabi.

So, here are some goats and chickens.


Tasha Tudor Goat and Ada Lovelace Goat, and they are both nearly 7 years old.



January 24~

Mako, my darling girl. She still lays eggs, though she is nearly 6 years old.

February 2~



We have a lot of rain this winter. A lot. It's made the garden lush and happy, it's made me cozy and happy. It's made the goats dismayed and forlorn. I've done a lot to address their concerns, like giving them extra treats, laying down dry bedding, and finding breaks in the weather to let them run loose.

February 5~

February 9~
Here is Emma Thompson leaving the nest, and Pepper, in line to lay her egg.

Right after the new year, the hens started laying again. I was surprised. I am still surprised. They were looking beleaguered and bedraggled in the fall, and I worried about how they would fare through the winter after such a messy molt. They are not young hens, and I assumed these would be their retirement days. Happily, the hens are plucky as ever. Neither their age, nor the weather has slowed them down.


Pretty Koa.

February 12~

Fiona, our buff orpington, went through a brief rough patch of her own, and I was concerned. She was unwell, and hardly ate. Now, she's back to her old self, and I am glad we will have our cheery, golden girl with us a while longer.


Pippi looks so elegant and spry, when Alex saw her picture, he asked, "Is this one of our chickens?"




Definitely, one of our goats! I love when I can capture these hilarious expressions.

February 17~

Hello, Liberty. She is just the same as when we named her. She is quiet and calm, and satisfied to go off on her own path, no bother to anyone.

Pepper and Pippi, or perhaps Pippi and Pepper. I tell the two silver-laced Wyandotte hens apart by their toes.

February 25~

Geoff is in San Francisco this week, so my technical hiccups with uploading photos will have to wait. I have tried to fix the problem, and as usually happens, I only succeed in stumbling upon more problems.

Max is taking his last final of winter quarter, and I will be bringing him home soon. Maria is ready to stay after school and participate in the Elective Fair for incoming students. She wore her Paradox uniform. Guess what... they earned a place at Championships! Yes, there's a lot we haven't kept up on, good things still to share. Alex is at work... he and Bambi are saving and preparing for their trip to Japan, later this spring. William has been 3d printing, and researching something he and Geoff are looking into... some other kind of 3d printer, a prospect that makes both of them light up.

The garden is wild. And the bees and butterflies, bunnies and birds, thank us. Maria, Alex, and I are devising plans to bring in more native plants, and that's something that makes me happy, too.

A FIRST Regional Competition

Chickenblog.com - Sun, 03/10/2019 - 21:00
March 2 :: The first day of competition at the San Diego-Del Mar regional.
The pits. Sort of behind the scenes from the playing field, where each team has a dedicated space where they can tune, program, and repair their robot. It's also where team members are scheduled to meet and greet judges, answer their queries, and engage with visitors, and other teams.





Flip, the 2019 competition robot, designed and built for Destination Deep Space.


Bobbie W. and Maria~


Jana, Ben and Maria, ready to answer your questions.


Ido and Leslie came with Simon, Bex and Spencer. Here's Ido meeting the team that traveled all the way from Istanbul, Turkey.



He's hooked. Simon is looking forward to joining 2102 Team Paradox.

Ben, Maria and Amber~

Asa and Myron~


Maria with George S.~

George and Michelle~

Wayne, Nick, Matt~

Spirited Perry mascot, and Dean's list semi-finalist, David, with Maria~

Suat and Minghuey~

Alex J., alumni and mentor, with Maria~




Called to the field to receive one of the highest honors of the event, the Engineering Inspiration award. This award "celebrates outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering within a team’s school and community."



Besides playing through the semi-finals, 2102 Team Paradox earned a place at world Championships in Houston, and paid entrance by NASA.


Maria and Michael, rookies and freshmen.

Lucas~


The freshmen drive team and coaches.

Maria with all team president, Sarah P.

Jenna, marketing president.

Evan and Lucas~

Matt, alumni, founder, and mentor~


Congratulations, 2102 Team Paradox... Maria, great beginning!

March 1-9

Chickenblog.com - Sat, 03/09/2019 - 11:18
Happy Birthday, William~









Trying on chairs and sofas.








Pop Pie Co.






(This post was back-blogged on May 14, 2019.)

February 21-28 Sun in The Garden

Chickenblog.com - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 20:27
February 21 ::





It's always good to see Max during the week, to meet for lunch or a walk. Sometimes we all go, to bring him home for the weekend, and have a dining hall dinner. I don't remember meals this nice when I went to UCSD! The walks on campus are pretty, and then we take the coast home, which is beautiful.


The second semester of her freshman year, and she's got metals. Alex and Max took this class during high school, and William and Geoff took the course in the evenings, through ROP (an adult education class, which was sadly defunded.) Maria was was anxious about this class... the metal shop and all of the "dangerous" machinery can look intimidating, but now she's been through the safety training, and can see that she is in a good space, and capable, she is really warming up to the new skills and projects.


February 22 ::


And speaking of new skills, here I go, into beginning oil painting, and studying Impressionism, and Monet's painting style. "Thin, then thick. Dark, then light. Big, then detailed..." are the key lessons. So far, I just want to remember to not hold the brush in my mouth. There are so many more parts and supplies to this medium, and I never seem to have enough hands!

February 23 ::



Inspired by some home improvements happening, I decided to update this old nest box furniture we've had since forever. Forever = 2002. I want to keep it rustic and farm-house chic, but lighter, fresher, and apparently not yellow, after all. Luckily, we have a lot of paint samples around, so I just kept brushing new shades on until I found something I like.

February 24 ::




Fred came to town, and I got to meet my friends for dinner.

Should I apologize because these are not quite focused? I can't be sorry, though. I love Anne's joy, and the hint of mischief in Fred's eyes. These two are seeing the world, and I love to follow their adventures, when Fred posts photographs.

February 25 ::
I think it's been a decade since we've seen this much rain, and most days are cloudy, but we get sunny days, and even when it is cloudy, our calendula and poppies are as bright as sunlight. We couldn't have a cheerier garden, and I don't do a thing for any of these pleasures. All of the flowers are blooming from the plants that reseeded themselves from last year. A lot of rain, a little sun, and my admiration is all it's taken to get these beautiful blossoms.





February 26 ::

February 27 ::
Rainy days and beams of sun streams are good for kitties, too.

February 28 ::

Here is one of those pictures I might share on IG, and it will make me feel blitheful and virtuous... oh me, the merry farmer and chicken keeper, clipping her herbs for a darling nest. Now the hens can lay on a bed of lavender, and perhaps I make my own clothes, bake loaves of whole grain bed, and floss daily. Well, I do floss daily, but that's about all I seem to manage, lately.
The truth is, keeping chickens is a messy business, and most times I'm just happy to get them fed, and safely locked up at night. I haven't baked or sewed in ages, and my to-do list is more like an unchecked and ever-growing catalog. But, this one time I trimmed the lavender and crammed into the chicken's nest box... it was a good moment.




(This post was back-blogged on May 13, 2019.)

February 15-20 Robots & Chickens

Chickenblog.com - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 10:21
February 15 ::
El Gato. Neo Cairo Nepenthes. Don't you love that cats always have more than one name?




I'd just read the chapter, from Around the World in 80 Trees, about Torrey Pines, and thanks to a recent storm, I found all the parts of that unique tree, scattered around our yard. Their needles grow in bundles of 5, and a whole cluster is called a "broom." The curling flower is the male, and it grows in the lower branches. The flower that looks like a lipstick is female, and in 3 years time it can produce a mature pine cone. The pine cones hold the hard, edible piñones. Because the male flowers' pollen blows from the low branches and the female flower is in high branches, the pollen rarely reaches the flowers above, but travels to other trees, ensuring cross-pollination and diversity.


Cairo and one of his adored (and filthy) ratty-rats. If you have a cat, and a nearby Ikea... you need to bring home a ratty, too.

Here is a moment of... keeping it real. And just so we are clear, this is my idea of hilarious, good. It's not so much that I like spilling hot tea, the sticky mess, or seeing the same robot on the dining table for months, being entangled in a bicycle pump, noticing that someone thought the bench was a fine place for a pizza box, or even the impulse I have to rationalize that it's not actually a "pizza" box, because it was holding something else. I don't want to belabor the fact that Geoff was working everyday, and all day, that we don't just believe in entropy, but practice it religiously. I find it hilarious, because this is the curse of blessings! It's life, and messy, and the messes are not fatal, and here we are, all together in our own home and surrounded by our hobbies, and favorite mug, and warmth, and plans, and it's funny, and good.

Here is another real moment... pastoral, serene, poultry in motion.








Dear garden, in the rain, I love you.


And here is something... the window and wall, and our happy gallery, about to be something new.

All packed, and ready for another post. I will share more, soon.











This is bag and tag; the last hours before the FIRST Robotics Competition robot gets tested, tweaked, adored, driven, and photographed before being sealed up in a bag, inaccessible until the first regional event. All the teams have to bag and tag their robots on the same day, at the same time. For 2102 Team Paradox it's become a tradition to finish this up with root beer floats. The team and families, alumni, teachers and mentors gather, and there is a collective sigh of relief, and also a reality check, because build season is only supposedly "over," and experienced members know that there is still a lot more to do!

February 6-14 Flowers and Fixes

Chickenblog.com - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 10:15
February 6 ::
In winter, the nicest spot to warm-up is in front of the oven, beneath the vent for the heater. You get the ambient heat from the gas burner, and a blast of warm air that kicks-in to take the chill off our morning as we get ready for the day. The water is heating for oatmeal, and I feel resolved, but in that way that is a delicate balance between grappling and contentment.

Returning to blogging has not been easy. It takes a lot of time, and I've struggled to regain my focus and endurance. Sadness, too, has been a struggle... not wanting to dwell on trials, or revisit frustration, being self-conscious about my typos and poor reasoning. For a while I even considered writing, for me, to be over; something to give up, but that bore its own sadness and frustration. But how to get back? Where to begin? Back-blogging has been a good path, I think. The posts are kind of hidden, quietly slipping into the blog, unobtrusively. It's funny and revealing, because I reasoned with myself... Just pick a couple of special moments from each week, keep it small, with few words. No pressure. Now, I feel myself gaining steam, and wanting to share more pictures, feeling eager to recall details, and activities, "special" or not. And it helps, too, that I have no deadlines, and there are no demands or expectations. I do this for my own amusement, and that takes away a lot of pressure, as I am very easily amused.






February 7 ::



February 9 ::




Flowers and fixes... the big fix is finally repairing the driveway, after all the roots were cut out. Tree roots were raising and busting our driveway so badly that Geoff's car struggled to get over them, chunks of asphalt and foot high ridges were threatening to send us tripping across the drive. Even with the help we hired, it was a classic Bird House project, where we all lend a hand. The whole time we were tackling this project, rain kept pouring, and we were either working between showers, or enduring long delays.




I suppose if I wrote this account in real-time I would over-dramatize this work a bit. It was a huge undertaking. Now that it's done, and we no longer climb and stumble across the driveway, it all feels like a happy relief, with hardly a bit of hardship.

February 12 ::







In Del Mar there is a little kiosk-like box, where a gardening club displays floral arrangements. It reminds me of our Little Free Library... small, and made for sharing. It's charming.



After school, Maria volunteered with her robotics club to greet prospective students visiting from middle school. And just as she hoped, she met friends from her grade school, and that was a very emotional experience, especially when she and Melaina saw each other. Sometimes we forget that this high school student was a 6th grader only 2 years ago.

Speaking of time and friends, it won't be long before Simon is in high school, too. He has another year, yet, but he was eager to visit his future school, especially to see the metal shop.

February 13 ::







And back to the flowers. I think we will always have calendula, since they reseeded themselves from last year. Like the sweet peas, and poppies, the calendula have been thriving with all the rain.

February 14 ::

Cairo is our funny Valentine.

I thrive, too, in the rainy weather.

(This post was back-blogged on May 2, 2019.)

The End of My rise to Mediocrity

Chickenblog.com - Sun, 02/10/2019 - 13:04
Last year... because I can't get my photos to work... The letter between O and Q on my keyboard died, and so did the "return" key. My computer hasn't backed ub in 17 days, and iBhoto isn't responding... whoa... the letter will abbear if spellcheck detects the error. I am subpoenaed again, but this time to testify for the Department of Motor Vehicles against the drunk lady. So, this makes 2 hearings. And yes, this is a whining, miserable, I have a head cold, and I cannot do what I love since the accident comblaint post. Only my own moral compass keeps me from posting her name, and wishing rain on her barade. I was drobbed from yoga, before I could quit... I missed the first day because 1. I needed to be somewhere else at the same time 2. I have nothing to wear that is yoga abbrobriate 3. I was overcome with discomfort and anxiety 4. my body hurts in vague and general ways that makes me uncomfortable, untrusting. I did make it to the first day of the new art class... the colon key is broken, too... Oil Painting. And I was nervously habby, and it should have been all good, but then my body began aching and the telltale accident bains returned, and I at one point I slipped away to cry, because I feel so sad and angry and frustrated, and embarrassed. It's silly to be embarrassed, but I am. It's wrong to say "silly." My brain is still off... just slightly enough out of sorts to be distressing. I have all but quit trying to write, actually... between my brain and aches I feel, it's too hard, and besides blogging is dead... so is the forward slash, so no more html. Well. This is all very distressing, disaobbointing, silly, embarrassing, and inevitably bointless.

Birds Again... February 4 & 5

Chickenblog.com - Wed, 02/06/2019 - 12:10
February 4 ::








Birding! Again... and I am sorry that despite all my talk of birds and birding, my posts rarely have pictures of the birds we are watching, like the Townsend's Warblers, or the Mountain Chickadees. I am seeing so many rare birds, and dear ones, and even spying the sparrows and finches makes me giddy. But I don't really have a camera that makes it worthwhile to snap pictures. I write the names of the birds in a Scout book, next to notes about where we are and what kind of weather we are trekking in. Then I follow the birders and look up. Some of them, amazing beings, can hear a bird's song and announce, "California towhee!" and someone else will spot the very bird that was heard. I think that's miraculous. Once, a birder laughed and amusedly described "Did you hear? That mockingbird is mimicking a sparrow?" Music in many other languages is playing, and some people can pick out the notes, name the composer, even sing along, and all I hear is "tweet tweet tweet." I love it... being a novice, being in the company of people who have these skills, retain their wonder. I love the birds, and the birders, the outings.

February 5 ::



Sometimes the birds are very near, or very big, then I can take a decent picture... of pelicans, and cormorants, gulls, and sea lions, and bluffs.










It was a beautiful winter day at La Jolla Cove.

And later, a beautiful visit to the metal shop, where the robotics team is about 4 weeks into their 6 week build season.

Darrahl and Myron, mentors~


Rookies often get the job of de-burring metal... and they do it with team spirit.

(This post was back-blogged on May 1, 2019.)

January 30-February 3

Chickenblog.com - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 10:43
January 30 ::
Today felt like a first day of school, again. The high school begins four classes at the start of year, and those are finished in a semester, then four new classes begin mid-year. Maria was very sad to be done with English, to say good-bye to a favorite teacher. Now she's completed a year of Japanese, English, and a course that introduced many subjects, including auto shop, programming, theater, and photography. Ahead, she has math, biology, metals, and second year Japanese.

Between Max's school and home is Torrey Pines State Park, and sometimes I make time to visit...

Sometimes a Wednesday in winter quarter calls for splitting a slice of chocolate cake.

January 31 ::

Yeah... I think we still had that new start energy, which obviously calls for a special breakfast, like a hencake.




Another beautiful visit to Torrey Pines State Park, and this time with the company of William and Janece.


I love that when something exceptionally beautiful happens in our town, I can count on seeing a dozen or more views posted on IG or FB, from our friends. The best of social media is feeling connected, sharing beauty and wonder. This double rainbow over our town was seen by so many of us, and I loved the way our community were all basking in the delight of it.

William designed, made and finished these custom bases to hold the puppets he's collecting. I love how much respect he has for the work and artistry of these figures, and how much care and craftsmanship he put into displaying them.

February 1 ::

Can you believe I left the feed store without this little darling? Congratulating myself for being reasonable and responsible is a small consolation for not having this sweet baby goat in our care.


February 2 ::





Another Groundhog Day... as Walt Whitman said, "We were together. I forget the rest."

February 3 ::
I am loath to admit this, but I feel as though I have stopped reading. I read... articles, online, news, essays, cereal boxes, blurbs. But I am ages and miles behind on novels, and books. Real books. It's embarrassing, disappointing. Ruth gave Geoff this book for his birthday. And I am reading it, and it's such bliss and delight. Jonathan Drori is a botanist-historian-narrator and the stories are about culture and ecology, including fascinating anecdotes, scientific facts. It's romantic, tragic, hopeful, illuminating. The only reason I am reading it slowly, is to savor it and make the pleasure last. My favorite nights are when Geoff is home, and I am still awake, so I can read aloud, one or two tree stories.



Maria, Cairo, Alex, Max, and Lucas~

The big game was not football. Today's game... DnD.


(This post was back-blogged on May 1, 2019.)