Chicken Blog by Natalie

A is For Apple~B is For Boat - Sun, 06/30/2019 - 21:00
June 27 ::

We are sticking close to home this summer, and to ensure that we don't get too laid back, we made a list of things we can do, want to do, need to do, and hope to do, and it includes sharing our apples, trying out electric bikes, visiting fun places, and having friends over to play. So far, we are off to a very good start.

Since 3 of our apple trees are full of fruit, and it's more than we can consume, we had a few friends over to share in the bounty... And as so often happens when we have friends over, it felt like we received more than we gave.
Anna got to meet the goats, and introducing these two to new friends is always fun.

Also fun... introducing the swing to new friends! Leanne approves, I think!

Carol and Grace~

Maria and Amira~

Alex V~

Leslie and Ido brought this beautiful honey, still capped in its comb, to enjoy with the apples. Such a delicate and lovely flavor.

And this veggie curry... had to capture these colors!

Leanne and Eric came with a gorgeous loaf of Dutch Oven Bread... the no knead recipe, and Leanne adds rosemary. I love love love this recipe, and everyone loved Leanne's rosemary version.

Diana, Carol, Natalie, Janece~

June 28 ::

June 29 ::

Geoff has been thinking about bicycles, electric bicycles, particularly. And when Geoff thinks of something, it's always followed by research, then deep research, and that's what lead us to Newport Beach to rent a couple of electric bicycles, particularly Rad Power Bikes, which we could take for a test drive at Sports Rents LLC. (Not paid sponsorships... just happy to share both places, as we enjoyed the rental service, and like what we've seen with Rad Power Bikes.)

Right across the bridge, on Balboa Island, we find Sports Rents, and are checking out the Rad Power Bikes they rent. Newport Beach has great bike trails, and beautiful scenery... this research is turning into a fun family outing.

Alex and Bambi joined us from Fullerton. The day is getting better and better!

Liam, at Sports Rents LLC suggested Back Bay Loop Trail, and it was a beautiful, and safe, place for us to take turns test riding the two bikes we rented.

After riding, we left Balboa Island by Ferry, to see about renting a boat, and by this time we were in touch with Leslie and Ido, who were coming up to the area for their own weekend getaway! Any chance we can meet up, and have a boating adventure?

Spencer and Simon, come aboard! Our top cruising speed will be 5mph!

Despite the crowds, last minute daring, and spontaneity, we managed to rent a boat, large enough for 12... and meet up with Leslie, Ido, Simon, Bex and Spencer! Renting a little boat to putter around Newport Harbor is something we have done 2 or 3 times, and the last time we made this adventure we LOVED it, and were certain we would be back real soon: Care to guess how long that took? We let 7 years go by before coming back to enjoy this fun, and easy, adventure!

Welcome aboard, Ido and Bex!

Bex, Leslie, and our captain, Geoff.

Uh... after viewing many homes, this one is absolutely my harbor side dream house... the sign reads "Hickory Dickory..." As in "Hickory Dickory Dock!" Pun, and mouse references, deem this fate. I will reside here, on holidays, and draw my ratty-rats and mice. You're all invited to putter over in your boats and kayaks, and we will jump from the dock, and sleep beneath the trees.

A is For Apple, B is For Boat, and Summer is for friends sharing dreams, adventures, treats, and love.

MidSummer - Tue, 06/25/2019 - 12:39
The blackberries surprised me. Sure, I planted them, years ago, but now they're all entwined and hidden in the deep green passion vine. In Oregon, my mom reports that the blackberries are still only blossoms, which is just right. I think of her blackberries in August, September. I don't know if we can make it to Oregon this year, but it makes me happy thinking that it's possible, and that we can enjoy the treats at the beginning of summer, and again at the end. As it is, we are spoilt, with peaches, blackberries, even apples, and apricots coming soon! The passion fruit won't be too far behind. And each new year, here in our Bird House, I feel surprised and thankful, because this home is so good to us.

It's summer, and we've had solstice, and lovely signs of all the goodness a rainy winter and spring can bring. Out in the world I hear all the murmurings of May Gray, and June Gloom fatigue. Most people have had enough of our season of overcast and mist, of cool mornings. Summer is slow to warm up along the coast. I smile quietly to myself, and think how nice it is that we don't have to launch straight into heat and glaring light. Soon enough, I think. Soon enough we will have hot days, and nights, and plenty of sunshine, and a summer that will linger well into October. I can wait.

I think when the sun does appear, these will ripen in an instant! When the apricots are ready to pick, I am inviting friends over to harvest and enjoy them with us. Right now, I can easily declare that I would be thrilled to live all summer long on chips with garden salsa and avocados, and apricots on toast!

Happy Summer, friends... I hope yours is coming around nicely.

Summer, But First A Maker Faire - Mon, 06/17/2019 - 11:12
June 12 ::
They're home. Alex and Bambi are back from Japan. Their luggage is full of gifts and treats, and they've been awake for more than 24 hours, and Alex has had 2 days of his birthday. We met them at the train station. They rode the metro from Union Station in Los Angeles, and... and I don't know why I am fussing over details like those, when what I really want is to write about how fast time passes, how much I love being a mom, and having these children (adults, young people, my family). It's too hard to describe... the bittersweet, the gratitude for our time and all the goodness, the certainty that time will only seem to move faster, and faster, even as I try to hold on to every moment and glance.

June 13 ::

Look! Peaches! Our tree makes a few more each year. And I love them. I am going to Google and see if there are summer poems about peaches. I am thinking of the one about plums... This Is Just To Say...

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold
~William Carlos Williams
June 14 ::
Yes, it is a certainty that time is moving faster, and a first day of school is soon followed by a last day. I don't want to think about the next three years, only today, and the first weeks of summer when we will feel like time is a wide and winding path, open and beckoning.

June 15 :: North County Mini Maker Faire
With grace and humor, Maria would count how many days were left of school and getting up early, and being very busy with homework, assignments, responsibilities, and then she would add the 2 extra days of rising early and working hard, because I had applied for us to exhibit at Maker Faire! Sorry! She would assure me that it was ok, that our Make activities, and even getting up early on the first weekend of summer would be bearable, and worthwhile. And so... the first day of summer, even the last day of school, we were very busy preparing for, and exhibiting at a Maker Faire.

Paul~ He is a friend and champion of Mechathulu, our frequently evolving robot beast.

Alex~ He brought his newest tent, with the temporary covering that I whipped up for the occasion.

Paul and Maria~ Maker Faire is all about making and sharing, but none is possible without good friends.

Simon, and his family, are here with Junkade.

Besides Mechathulu, we also brought the Infernal Percussion Engine, a glockenspiel that plays, powered with a bicycle pump!

Our robots are favorites with visitors, because we hand over the controls! And maybe you noticed? FIRST 2102 Team Paradox is at their first North County Mini Maker Faire... great outreach, Paradoxians!

Bex is a natural with needle felting, and she only got better! I love her chicken, and when she started a taco-cat, I had to make one, too.

Alex shared his woodworking art, and introduced robots.

William and Geoff have been making a lot of new experiments with resin 3d printing, mold making, developing metal alloys, and casting.

Maria and I had our hands full with our hands-on activity... teaching needle felting at a faire, to all ages and skill levels is a big undertaking! Bex was a quick-study and we soon had her help, too.

Michael, Darlene, Seth, Gary, and David~

Simon and Geoff~

FIRST 2120 Team Paradox's newly elected president of outreach can solder! Great seeing you at Maker Faire, Natalie!

William and I solder our own Makey Makes, too. And we hope these won't be our last... I am too sad to talk about this, just yet.

Gary, David, Michael~

Ido and Matt talk programming and 3d printing programmable robots.

Lucas and those clever little diy robots.

Here is something awesome... Maria's art and design, 3D modeled by William, and then cast in our own alloy of bismuth and tin. That's a Parrot Ox... Paradox!

Mike, Geoff and William talking about casting metal, and our own alloy mix, which we are calling BoomNerdium.

A nice thing about exhibiting a tent at a faire, is having a place where you can duck out for a bit.

And after the faire closes for the day, and we've secured our gear, we can treat ourselves to good eats and great company.

June 16 :: Day 2 at The Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum and Mini Maker Faire, on Father's Day
Before the gates open the makers have a chance to visit and enjoy each others' exhibits, and this morning concert with Bruce Thompson was one of my favorite times of the day. He took requests, and shared back stories about the music. It was beautiful.

Leslie and Bex got an introduction to Geoff and William's casting projects.

James< too, got to see firsthand what we have been up to lately. And we continued our discussion about the future of Maker Faire and our hopes and ideas, going forward.

One of the skills that goes well with needle felting is hand sewing and embroidery, and since it was a quiet morning, I had time and focus for teaching a couple of children how to sew little felt pockets and bags.

Maria has been exhibiting at Maker Faires since 2011, when she taught wet felting in San Mateo. This year she was very happy to exhibit something personal and all her own... her projects she made at home, and at school, in her metals class. The Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum has an awesome blacksmithing barn, and so there were plenty of makers and visitors to appreciate and admire her skills in metal working.

Doctor Artemus Peepers... aka Dean LeCrone (IG @deanlecrone)

Lucas, who we've met at Scratch Day, and Ido, the Junkade master... we're basically just hanging out with our friends, enjoying a nerdy Father's Day.

More samples of William and Geoff's projects with modeling, photogrammetry, resin printing, casting. It's all learning, making, playing, failing, trying again, and sharing!

And making new friends! Sitting across from Sawyer Cigar Box Guitars was lovely, because we were hearing little concerts all day.

Look who's here for some Father's Day fun... Paul and Amira. Another kind of making that's great at this event is definitely the food, like this roasted corn, and the corn bread they made in the wood burning oven from the corn they milled on site. We love all the making!

TACOCAT... thank you, Bex! Thank you AGSEM and San Diego Maker's Guild! Thank you, Maker Faire, for dreaming all of this up in the first place. Thank you, BOoMNerds, and all of our maker friends and family. Good things are better shared, and we love to make, play, and share.

Cat, Bunnies, Flowers, Friends - Wed, 06/12/2019 - 20:00
June 8 :: Paradox End of Year Party and Awards

The newly-elected team president is Katie K., and her family hosted an end of year party for the robotics team. It's always an emotional event... these students, and the mentors, bring so much heart and dedication to everything. "Everything" includes designing and building a competitive robot, wiring, and programming it, driving it, bringing it to competitions, planning events, mentoring other teams, and other leagues, finding sponsors, writing grants, organizing outreach events, keeping a budget, teaching new members, and strengthening the future of the team with practical lessons and fun. By the end of the year, or four years for the graduating seniors, the team is a family, and everyone feels proud, for what's been accomplished, and enthused for the new seasons ahead.

June 9 ::
When this picture came through from Japan, I think we all screamed with delight! Alex and Bambi have been seeing quite a few friends on the trip, but this is extra! Grant! He lives in Tokyo, and works as a teacher. Last August he brought some of his students here, to the Bird House. And now, Alex and Bambi are visiting him, in his... Nose House. That is his Halloween costume, actually.

What do you give the California guy who has everything? You bring him a taste of home! We should see about getting him regular deliveries of El Nopalito chips and salsa, because Grant will be in Japan until he's finished his master's degree.

Here's where I just stick in a picture of a chicken... to try and distract us from missing Grant.

Here's where I stick in a picture of my garden gone all to heck... to keep it real. After months of postcard beauty from this dear garden, it finally expired, seemingly overnight! And I started to clear it out, but didn't get too far. Have I mentioned my broken finger? Yeah... goats can bite, if you stick your hand in their mouth while they are eating. There's a story here.

June 10 :: The Cats, a Picture Essay, in 3 Hours

June 11 ::
We have become a bunny sanctuary. They're everywhere. If there's something terribly reckless about letting bunnies multiply and run all over the yard (because these days there's something terrible with just about anything,) please don't mention it. I want to see the world as a happy, hoppy, blissful bunny sanctuary.

Just bunnies, and whispy clouds over happy homes, and flowers. Lots and lots of flowers.

With help, the bed was cleared, and now fresh starts are tucked in. Corn, green beans, cucumbers, peppers, and lots and lots of flowers.

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

June Views - Sat, 06/08/2019 - 11:23
June 1 ::
As much as I could, I squared the pieced "squares," then bordered them with the blue sash. Now what? I've got a quilt top, but the fabric is so worn and thin, it will never do for an actual quilt. Maybe it can be a window covering in our barn... maybe I shouldn't have put so much time and effort into this. So... a silver lining? I got some sewing and squaring practice, a little re-familiarizing myself with piecing, and my machine. Darn... trying to look for the positive has actually only reminded me that I think my Janome is need of a serious tune-up, or even an up-grade. It sounds like it's sewing over sticky sandpaper.

June 2 ::

Emma Thompson~
If I need a break from thinking about... anything, the answer is Chicken Time.


Here comes Pepper, or Pippi.

June 4 ::

My Honey Lavender tea comes with words of wisdom... and my cat appears with comic timing.

June 5 ::

The travelers, in Hokkaido... Noboribetsu.

There are only 9 days until the end of this first year of high school. (Can you see Cairo? He's watching Maria from the porch.)

June 6 ::

June 7 :: Happy Birthday, Mom!

Geoff and I had time together before bringing Max home from his last class of his junior year. We walked from the Glider Port, at Torrey Pines. We enjoyed the beauty of the bluffs and view, the wildflowers. And I tried to remember all I could from when my Mom was the UCSD student, when we lived in family housing, and would walk down to the beach from up here. After we picked up Max, we went to lunch, and admired the koi near Geoff's office.

June 8 ::

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

May 32nd MNO - Sat, 06/01/2019 - 23:00
May ended too soon, so we gave it one more day...
Maria B is our host for tonight's Mom's Night Out. When was the last time I shared about these women, my long time friends? Ah, almost a year ago, when Fred was visiting, and he took a picture of (most) of us. Something about these pictures reminds me of the time when my Maria and I were driving home from MNO, when Linda hosted, and Maria was asking about each of my friends... that was 11 years ago!

This was the point in the evening, after the amazing dinner and beautiful fruit tart, when we had our phones out to take notes... book notes. Everyone had reading suggestions, and maybe programming suggestions for tv shows, movies. We were writing things down, then passing some around to share pictures. And laughing. Always laughing. We've been getting together since 1996, when Belinda started us on a monthly dinner, each Mom hosting once a year. We started, and we never stopped.

I have her carrot-cake recipe. My favorite. But... did she get it from B? I can't remember. Now, I feel like I should share something sweet or memorable about each of the Moms, but no. I'll just say this... we have shared hearts, and heartaches, recipes, rides, recommendations, and time, and it has been one of the dearest gifts of my life.

Jola and Belinda~
I've known some of these women longer than 23 years. Jola and I met back when she and Geoff worked together... maybe 1984, the ISSCO anniversary party? Certainly by 1994, when Alex was born. And six months after Alex was born, B was the first new neighbor we met when we moved to this part of the county... that was a fortuitous move and meeting!

Yanina has the selfie knack! That's Jola, B, Anne, Linda, Maria, Vera, Karen, me and Janice! LMNOP

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

End Of May Already - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 20:00
May 23 ::
Hello, Cairo. Anna B and I are going out for lunch... I am looking forward to hearing about travel plans she and Fred are making. I love Fred and Anne's travels, their photographs, and just thinking of them off on another adventure.

As my sweet-peas fade, a beautiful bouquet arrives from Carol's garden, and a new color, too! These came from the seeds I shared with her. I am delighted that hers, and ours, have reseeded themselves, and are growing in succession.

We are still unpacking and resettling since the remodel and repairs to the house. My toys have been sitting in the hall, outside my bedroom, waiting for me. And, happily, I find that I am thinking of them again. It's been hard to see everything, to be able to address and manage even things that I love (since the accident.) Recently, I am finding a little more capacity, and that's good, but it also makes me sad, because I am aware of how neglected things are, how far behind I am, how much simple things have been a struggle to cope with.

May 24 ::
Aloe in bloom.

And speaking of off on another adventure... Alex and Bambi, going over their to-do list, in preparation for their trip to Japan. Bambi has been once before, with school, and this will be Alex's first visit. They both studied Japanese in high school, like Maria is doing, now. It's such a good program... it seems like taking the class means visiting Japan is almost inevitable., and even working or continuing studies there is likely. For now, I am pretty sure Alex and Bambi's visit is just for seeing friends and sights.

May 25 ::

The new window gives a nice clear view of the sparrows that sit (and torment) on the gutter's edge.

May 26 ::

Alex, Gordon, and Bambi... Sayonara!

Maria spent a couple of secretive days in the workshop, and when she was done, she had a gift for me... the copper rose wreath. She made it from the lessons she's been learning in metals, including braze welding, which is something like soldering. It's luminous! And I love how she's taken to her class, the different skills she's acquired. Her gift left me speechless.

May 27 :: Waiting to hear the travelers landed safely, and taking lots of goat pictures.
Hay tower!

May 28 ::
Hey, Tower!

They did land safely. And we started getting lots of great pictures, too.

May 29 ::
My favorite pictures were of the 2 of them.

Every new image that came to our phones brought happy exclamations, and sometimes a happy announcement, "New pictures! Check it out!" And Maria, especially, would frequently sigh wistfully, or declare confidently, "I can't wait to go to Japan!"

May 30 ::
Chango. He's frailer, and frailer, and yet he moves, goes up and down the stairs, loves his treats, and seems determined to live his best life.

In Japan, even the manhole covers are beautiful.

May 31 ::

Still, Quilt Piecing Season, and now I am trying to square and finish these second-hand squares I brought home. They're thin and wonky, and really, I am not sure what possessed me to tackle such a frustrating task. They made me sad, seeing them orphaned and alone, unfinished. I've always felt a kindred spirit with other women that sew, and I feel like there is an understanding that we hope our work will be recognized, appreciated, and if necessary finished, if we cannot complete them ourselves.

All this month, Maria and I have been counting down the days until the end of school, and it's felt like so long! She counted the days without weekends, she considered any holidays or half-days, or special days, but it always felt like summer and freedom were still ages away. But suddenly, and she agrees with me on this... suddenly, it feels like the end of school is coming very soon. Here it is the end of May, and only 2 weeks of school and friends, classes, and activities, and freshman year. The realization of senior friends graduating, going away, of friends that won't be around much over summer, favorite teachers retiring, moving on, of all the familiar things about to change, again, and now maybe it's too soon.

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

Peony Season - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 12:40
May 15 ::

I am wondering what defines a "season." Of course we have our seasons of the year... summer, fall, winter and spring. But just now I feel like making a point of recognizing more seasons. Sadly, we have started acknowledging Fire season, with those increasingly larger and more frequent fires we suffer in the West. But, no... I am thinking of watermelon season, when nearly any melon will be crisp and sweet, beach season, when the tourists have left but we are still having hot days, warm water, and plenty of daylight. Lilac season is fleeting and beautiful. Peony season, for us, depends on our Trader Joes bringing in regular shipments of these gorgeous blossoms, and we treat ourselves almost every week, maybe for an entire month.

May 16 ::

I want it to always be swing season, and kitty time, and art making season.

May 17 ::

Our teacher asked us to photograph each of our finished assignments, to email those to her. Our last day of oil painting class is coming up, and our works will be critiqued. I don't know if I will ever feel as comfortable with oil paints as I got with watercolors, but... objectively, and self-critically, I can admit that I learned a lot, and perhaps, it even shows in my paintings.

Quality time with Masaccio, while his family celebrates Andy's graduation from Boston College.

May 18 ::
Here they are, the five large paintings I completed for my first oil painting class. (Do I say "oil painting" too much? Sorry, if I do, but it's necessary. It was a challenging class, with layers and weight, with a burden that compels me to say "oil painting" just to convey the force and substance of the experience. I say this in a serious tone, but winking.)

May 19 ::
When the first petals fell, I was even more deeply infatuated with Peony Season. And I let them stay, and sighed every time I walked by them, thinking, Even as they fade, they are too beautiful to sweep away.

Masaccio and Paper Sack Season. He is deeply infatuated.

May 20 ::
The moon being brilliant, even through the lens of a cell phone camera.

May 22 ::

I think because my oil paints were put away, and the class finished, I felt the wide open and clear calendar space, mental and emotional liberty... and so I started rummaging through storage bins of old and unfinished projects, works in progress. I pulled out pieces that are at least 12 years old, and I think I just initiated Quilt Piecing Season.

(This post was back-blogged on June 30, 2019.)

The New Trail - Sun, 05/12/2019 - 19:00
May 10 :: Walking the New Rail Trail

May 11 :: Global Scratch Day
Bo, Bella, Emma, Doug and Maria~

Ido, Global Scratch Day Organizer for San Diego, and James with San Diego Makers Guild, and Haddington Dynamics.

This year, Maria is teaching 2 vector illustration classes.

Scratch Day 2018.
Scratch Day 2017.


Rezah and Stephen, more of our great Scratch team.

Natalie and Bex, seriously.

Leslie, Ido's able and ready partner~

Natalie and Reza, not so seriously.

James and Geoff~

May 12 :: Mother's Day
Happy Mother's Day, Ruth~

Everyone feels celebrated when Ruth brings her lemon dessert.

(This post was back-blogged on June 30, 2019.)

Recently... - 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...

Swing Into May - Sun, 05/05/2019 - 08:49
April 26 ::

We left our swing... just a frame, back in January. It's time to make some progress.

We have many ideas for different seat options, configurations, and designs. For now, it will be a classic wood seat, heavy, sturdy, roomy. William is shaping and smoothing the wood.


Also, Mako.

April 27 ::






My Christmas present... and a dream come true. A swing so big that even a grown person will feel six years old.

April 28 ::

Here are Charles and Akira... as much fun as swinging, is sharing the swing with friends.

Preparing a Green Man for Beltane.

April 29 ::

April 30 ::

May 1 ::

What sweeter way to welcome this new month, than with lilacs, so rare and beautiful.

May 2 ::

Alex's watercolor entry in the student gallery.

My first entry into a show, this watercolor painting of the farmhouse (Highland House) that we had the pleasure of renting on a visit to Wisconsin. It was surrounded by barns, and outbuildings, and hundred acres of land, open for exploring.

May 4 ::

The mama bluebird about to pop in on her chicks.

Alex, William, Tori, Geoff, Max, Lucas, and Maria~

Janece, Amira and Maria, Paul, William, Lucas, Geoff, Max and Alex, Tori and Bambi, Luna, and Mike~

(This post was back-blogged June 30, 2019.)

April 21-26 Signs of Spring - Sat, 04/27/2019 - 10:00
April 21 ::

Maria and I traveled home from Houston on Easter Sunday. It was such a happy scene at the airport, meeting Geoff and the boys. We had lunch at Pop Pie, then walked around the lagoon, where we saw lots of bunnies, flowers, and a mother with her ducklings... all lovely and soothing, and quintessentially spring.

April 22 ::

It's always a bit odd when after traveling and being in a completely other world... like a massive robotics competition in Texas, chaperoning high school students, watching fire works in a stadium with R2D2 and then the very next morning everything is back to routine, to normal. Maria didn't have even a day to get out of Central Time, before it was back to school, and catching up from missing 3 days of classes. On the way back from taking Max to his dorm, I stopped to appreciate all the wild flowers still thriving along our coast. Wherever I travel, near or far, it keeps me balanced, and thankful, when I can slow down enough to look around and recognize the beauty of my surroundings.

Speaking of back to routine, while Maria and I were away, Mike was still repairing and in some cases rebuilding our home. In this case finishing the backside of the job Geoff and I tackled in the kitchen when we found a couple of plumbing leaks. We replaced our faucet, but bigger problems were lurking in the wall... and this is the cleaned-up view!

Maria needed to catch up with her classes, and sos did I. I realized that it was all of the home projects in the house that were keeping me from doing painting homework, so I took my supplies out to the workshop, and dove into the assignment... impressionist-Monet style water lily painting. And I took pictures of each step, following the lessons about layering, about values, and medium, the oil/paint/turpentine ratios. I appreciate stepping back and seeing how the painting begins and develops. However beginner-bad my final painting is, I think seeing how it evolves makes the end result more interesting.

And of course, with oil paint, I can't keep working through. I have to stop, let the paint dry, before I can move forward. So, laundry, cooking, and happily... slowing down to look around, recognize the beauty of my surroundings.

April 25 ::

William and I went to visit all of the signs of spring at Quail aka San Diego Botanical Garden. Thank you, Moments.

April 26 ::
Next time I decide to paint water lilies, I think I will leave Monet at Giverny, and I will sit at Quail for inspiration.

(Back-blogged June 27, 2019.)

April 12-17 Lucha Libre to Houston - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 11:39
April 12 ::

The field trip day for art class that finished with lunch at Lucha Libre.

April 13 ::

April 14 ::
Bluer and bluer. At the end of each day the progress Mike makes is notable and good.

April 16 ::

April 17 ::

And... Houston! Back in the beginning of the build season for Paradox and FIRST, I gave Maria an option... There are two regional competitions the team plays in during the regular season, and a third possible chance to play at Championships. Championships is not easy to get to, and has to be earned. So the choice I gave Maria was to travel to both regionals (San Diego, and Utah) or to go to San Diego and Houston... If they earned it. She put her faith in the team and opted for our local competition, and the gamble to go to Houston for FIRST World Championships. Her gamble paid off when FIRST 2102 Team Paradox earned the Engineering Inspiration Award.

I love that for the six week build season, and right up to through the matches at regionals, Maria would talk about When Paradox goes to Houston. Not "if." She knows her team has more than just spirit!

(This post was back-blogged on June 24, 2019.)

April 5-10 Painting In and Out - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 10:26
April 5 ::
Painting, painting. Painting everywhere. Alex and I are plugging away in our art class, learning all about Monet, learning all about oil painting. And at home, Mike is making his way around all of the Bird House, rebuilding and repairing the parts of our home that are too damaged to leave unchecked, and when he has restored a section, it is brightened and refreshed with a lovely coat of Arrowhead Lake blue paint. And the balcony, now screened and scrubbed, has walls that are Vine Leaf green, and a ceiling of the same Arrowhead Lake, blue. My vision for the little room... a forest with fallen pine needle floor, evergreen walls, and deep, dusky blue sky.

It rains and rains, and I don't feel the least bit tired of the clouds, the gray, the puddles, or showers. I must be made for this, because thinking of the rainy days only makes me sad to think that it will soon pass, or that next year we might not be so fortunate. It makes me wishful... let the earth soak this up, fill the reservoirs and aquifers, bloom native blossoms and feed the bees, bring back the butterflies and beetles. I want as much cleansing, cool, and thirst quenching rain to fall and collect, as we possibly can hold, and I really, really want it all to return next winter.

April 6 ::

Here is the balcony. Have I shared already? Overshared? It's the happiest space. We are in here all the time... one or two, or six, and the cats, too, know that the old balcony, once leaky and dull, is now inviting, bright, a place to gather and make plans. I am so glad we've improved it with the screens, the paint, the drift wood perches for cats to climb, the twinkle lights. It feels like a mountain cabin, a luxurious treehouse, a comforting refuge, like a rooftop garden, safe from all the cares of the world.

April 7 ::

April 8 ::

The shelves are in... my vision is complete! I love the satisfaction and pleasure of having ideas and plans for a space, and having all of it realized, and look and feel as wonderful as imagined.

April 10 ::

April 11 ::

On the roof, that's the only place I know
Where you just have to wish to make it so...
At night the stars put on a show for free...

~Carol King

(This post was back-blogged on June 5, 2019.)

March 28-April 4 - Fri, 04/05/2019 - 13:11
March 28 ::

Walking, Del Mar... you can see clear to La Jolla from here, even the five cranes busy constructing at UCSD. And closer up, the surfers, reflections, birds, and bubbles.

March 29 ::
After a lecture and video on the life of Monet, we jump into our second painting lesson, laying in the shapes and values for these cliffs.

April 1 ::

The madeira blooms suddenly. I'm not sure I ever notice the shrubs until these spires are standing proudly, and then I remember I'd like to plant those. And they finish almost as suddenly, and I forget.

One of the five cranes at work between Muir College and Thurgood Marshall College, at UCSD, as seen from the Applied Physics and Mathematics building.

April 2 ::

Pepper, or Pippi.

April 3 ::

I wonder if it's silly, or merely obsessive, this impulse to "back-blog." Why am I doing it? Answer: It will give me relief and satisfaction to fill in the gaps, and feel "caught up." But I can't help but feel that it's otherwise pointless, and to admit that, at least today, I feel the opposite of loquacious. (Looks up "Loquacious." Finds "Taciturn." Feels another wave of satisfaction in finding a delicious new word.)

April 4 ::

I feel taciturn. But, for the record, here is the progress in painting The Cliffs.

Mike went away for a time, to do some other jobs, check on his own home, far away in the mountains, and to bring his scaffolding. Now he is back, and back to repairing our home. So, the little window, sitting with one nail, in rotted wood, is coming out, and everything will be rebuilt, safe, and beautiful.

I hardly need a lot of words... I can let the flowers speak for themselves.

(This post was back-blogged on June 3, 2019.)