Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Bird House & Barn

... a Farm Report~

Happy October!




Actual fall, seasonal weather, and classic events of the season, may soon be ours to enjoy. The hens have stopped molting. Those poor dears were looking scrappy, and egg production took a dip. Now the ladies are fluffing up again, laying gorgeous eggs, of gorgeous colors. Ten hens, and all but one is laying. Little Debbie is an old lady hen, and we are happy to see her enjoying her golden years. Kamen is another dowager hen, but she still issues forth an egg every now and then... such gumption and resilience, that Kamen!

Goats! Maybe I shouldn't try so hard to get "good" pictures of these two. Sometimes I'll just be content to show them in their true form... ravenous, mobile, darling goats! I keep watching them for signs that we'll have a cold winter, hoping to see them start growing nice thick and wooly coats. Their big adventure this week was going to the school district farm, to greet visitors at the latest and greatest in education. Schools + Farms = Fabulous Learning! Tasha Tudor Goat and Ada Lovelace Goat were well-behaved, and made good efforts at mowing weeds, and making new friends. Maria was as busy as the goats, making friends, making seed bombs, and planting cover crops in the newly plowed field. She is always thrilled to be living her farmer dreams.

I am still neglecting my garden. Sigh. But even without much trying, we find little treasures and surprises popping up! Let me see... Swiss chard, eggs... I think we may begin this new month with a Bird House & Barn quiche!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cool Stuff William and Alex Are Doing


This week we have been in a making riptide! The strong current of overpowering creativity and project immersion has come from William and Alex, but the tide takes us all in, one way or another. Geoff and I have both been pulled in, helping with sewing, programming, welding, and devising a means to extract air from vacuum molding. What's in the mix? William finished his pirate breeches {britches?}... a sewing project that has had us both at our wits end, and were we ever elated to sew the last button on that one! Simultaneously, he is making a sword, a flintlock pistol, two scabbards (one for Alex,) a waistcoat, modifying shoes, and organizing a Halloween party. The weapons are reproductions (leaving out the functioning component... not a sharp sword, not a firing pistol.) He is creating molds and formulating compounds to make his own parts, like the trigger, the frizzen, the flint. He models parts and patterns for sewing, for wood working and for molding, on the computer, and then comes up with ways to make his ideas in fabric, wood, plastic, epoxy, or vinyl. He's gotten quite expert with his painting methods, too. Many of his wood pieces look just like brass, or steel parts. Alex was invited to a Viking Festival, and decided to go suitably attired and armed: He made a Viking shield and sword, then he hammered steel plates into a Viking helmet, riveting and welding the parts together. Geoff assisted on the TIG welding, and I applied myself to making a Viking tunic, and belt bag.

Our poor neighbors have endured some long {late} hours of workshop frenzy, and the house looks like a... {searching for a poetic phrase}. The house looks like a ginormo mess! Those are the less dignified admissions, and I only mention these to be honest, transparent. I am not a great housekeeper, but I try. I cannot "do it all," but this time, I let go of worry and shame and just enjoyed the ride. I sewed tunics, britches, bags, and hats, and I found glue, buttons, and new ideas, and ordered pizza, and washed enough dishes to get through the day, then went back to braiding hair, modifying loafers into pirate shoes, sharing goats, making hat shields. I watched Geoff direct lessons in TIG welding, and filing steal, then reading Full Metal Alchemist comics with Max and Maria, before unraveling the mysteries and deficiencies of MasterCam. We were all in the current, together, and it was a great feeling. The creativity was an overpowering tide and we all took it for an exhilarating ride!

Now, would you like to see some cool stuff? Here we have some works in progress, second-tries, do-overs, and successes, too...

William's blade and the start of the first hand guard, which partially failed, and he had to start over with a new approach.

Apoxie Sculpt flintlock hammer, ready to be drilled and sanded into shape.

Rough cut of flintlock pistol. African mahogany.

Measuring the fitting of the trigger guard.

Trigger mold... "the finished master for the trigger guard."

The chopsticks are called sprues.

The rebuilt sword guard, glued back together, this time with biscuits.

Max and Mister Foo, checking out the anvil.

With an anvil, the children are another step closer to completing their forge!


Trying the hammer.

Measuring seams on the britches.

Details on the sword Alex made. Ask him about aluminum backed plumbing tape! Stuff is amazing!

How many hits to turn steel plates into a helmet?

Helmet panels.


A lot going on. As usual. {By the way, this is our "dining" table.}

William designs things on the computer, then takes his patterns to either wood, fabric, or metal. In this case wood... shaped, and sanded, then painted to look like metal.

He made flaps and I sewed them to the thrift shop loafers, and with the buckle he has a whole new look!

William continues to work on the sword.

*Steel Aluminum blade and the wooden guard {hilt?} that he began in the first image.

*Correction. William was flattered that I thought it looked like steel.

Viking Festival time! Gauntlet time!

I added a pouch, and Maria and I added the pocketful of posies. Alex is a Viking with a cell phone, and wallet.

The medallion is Appoxy Sculpted, the armor is home-hammered!

Alex and Sarah bear their shields.

Okay, that's all, for now.

I am going to fold laundry!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Five Good Things



Chango. He has us so well trained it's scary. But he's such a dear old man, how can I refuse him?

What a weekend! It was so full of activity, projects, events, and make-work, it was like an endurance run... not that I could literally tell you what "endurance runs" are like! As constant, relentless and dizzying as it got, I found a good groove, settled into the rhythm, and had a great time. That dining table of ours has a few more dents, lots more paint flecks, and loads of stories! Is it Monday, already? It's almost a relief! Usually, Monday feels like the start of the "work" week, but I am catching my breath, today, and enjoying the simple pleasure of sweeping, washing clothes, buying groceries, and planning an autumn inspired dinner of vegetable soup and roast chicken. Hopefully I can squeeze in time to go through our pictures and eek out some kind of post to share a few the things we've been swimming in... like carving, molding, shaping, modifying, sewing, and painting!

Good Things...

1. Letting go of worry, and immersing myself in the activities at hand. Yes, the house is a mess, but we got so much accomplished, and had such a happy time at it!

2. Connecting with our community, with goats! Ada and Tasha visited a start-up school farm, and were darling ambassadors to all the visitors!

3. Everyone participating... making, thinking, tinkering, creating, improvising, and encouraging.

4. The look of my trunk this morning... full of orange zinnias, pumpkins and a gorgeously odd gourd, a Viking sword and shield, helmet, too, and bread, milk, carrots, leeks, celery, oatmeal. We have plenty.

5. Feeling tired in a good way, pleased with all that has come together, happy to be healthy.

*6. Help. It's so much easier to be la-de-da about all the domestic perils this morning, because I am getting cleaning help!
*Definitely a bonus Good Thing!

Are you glad it's Monday? What's good in your life? I hope you will share~

Friday, September 26, 2014

{this moment}

A single photo, capturing a moment from the week.
A special moment. A moment I want to remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

Mama Thomson in the garden~ She is the broody Cuckoo Marans~

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What's In Your Color Palette?




What's your favorite color? It seems like when I was younger this was a significant question, one that invariably came up when making a new friend. What's your name? And then, How old are you? And sooner or later, What's your favorite color? Early on, I was blue. Firmly a blue, but secretly, and passionately deep sky blue with rose pink. When I was six, those two colors, side by side, pink and blue, made my heart flutter, gave me ideas about possibilities and loveliness for which I had no words. I was smitten. I had a long and devoted purple phase, and it's still dear to my heart and soul, but so is green, and blue with green, and I also adore a good, deep cranberry, almost hinting at maroon. Just when I think that sky blue and rose pink have lost favor with me, nature shows me a sunset sky in those tones, and I am six, again, struck by that passionate affection, which feels sweet, and limitless.

I still love blue. I cannot live without green. Green's no good without red. A white wall soothes my mind, gives me room to think. Teal, lavender, mustard, aquamarine, a rich chocolatey brown... all welcome, all good one place, or another. But which is my favorite? It is my current obsession to settle on a few colors for hearth and home. Alex gave me the decorating word I needed: Palette. I don't have to choose a favorite color, but for our home I feel like I need to settle on a color palette, because... because it would be nice. For me. I think. I've been a lot of places, in many homes, where I am instantly aware that the colors, the decor, the theme are good, comforting, pleasing, nice to be in. It impresses me, makes me happy, and inevitably makes me feel utterly lost and confused about my own taste, style, theme, and favorite color. You see, at the moment I have painted no less than six things different shades of blue. All of them "pretty," all of them chosen because I liked them, but looking around the yard, thinking about the composition of the whole space, it's making me a bit discomforted, kind of like blaring improvisational jazz, when I am more into a romantic aria. I crave harmony. I want to feel a flow, have some continuity. No surprise, I am mixing metaphors here... like my taste in colors, my taste in music is wide open, and impossible to pin down. But, please, no improvisational jazz, or day-glow, or leopard prints, for me, thank you.

Okay... so, back to the bit about the palette: I am trying to realize a family of colors that make me happy, that I can focus on for our house paint, exterior, and paint for interior rooms. Colors that I can use when we replace our weary and worn sofa, and paint to restore the wood table on the porch, the old potting bench. Colors I can bear in mind when I go to replace our twenty-five year old bath towels. I'll never be match-matchy, no one will ever suspect I hired a color specialist, or enlisted a team of decorators, and I won't lay down a strictly nautical-modernist-contemporary-rustic-aesthetic. But six! different shades of blue?? I'm sort of ranch, kind of cottage, a touch farm house a lot modern-clutter and terribly contemporary confused. My eclectic phase is out of hand! Color palette. Obsessively, I declare, the key to my domestic harmony and satisfaction lies in the discovery and embracing of my color palette!

This is a trivial pursuit of utmost insignificance! I am fully aware of the superficiality, the utter inconsequence of establishing an Aesthetic Me, of discovering my color palette. Not only have I taken to labeling boxes and drawers, shelves, and doors, but soon I will carry swatches, and paint chips, know my Prairie Grey from Seaside Buff, and I will be resolute in discerning the difference between Cozy Cottage and Completely Cluttered. That will be a good day, I think. It will feel settled, and I'll be less confused, less frayed and torn over decisions. But how to reach the point where my palette and I are united, confirmed, agreed? How do I decide my favorite colors for home and hearth, and also the style that goes with them? For to be truly trivial, and at peace, I feel compelled to declare at least a general decorating style to complement my color palette. These questions are filling the empty spaces in my day, talking to me in my sleep, and mocking my six different shades of blues. What is my favorite color? What colors should be in my color palette? Obviously, I am compelled to open a new Pinterest Board. The laundry, and litter box will have to wait. Pressing matters are at hand.

This palette notion, by the way, is very interesting. As soon as I opened up Pinterest with the search for "palette colors," I uncovered a whole new world. Maybe some of you are nodding your heads and thinking, "Uh. Yeah. Didn't she know?" Maybe some of you do know that there are neutrals, and bases, and accents. I am learning a lot. And seeing more. For now, I am drawn to the beach, with all the shades of blues, blue-grays, and suggestions of soft greens, the calm sand tones, with rich accents like the golden kelp. You would think that this would settle the matter, but as soon as I see one winter cabin, or daydream on a Swedish summerhouse... then I am six, again, and struck by a passionate affection for something altogether different, sweet, and comforting. It is... dare I say? Kind of fun? Geoff wants a decision, and soon. He votes for Hunter green, white trim. Said and done. But I plan to add my Pinterest account to his iPhone, and oh-so subtly I am going to lure him into my indecisive, obsession with colors, so we can be confused, together.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Because Awesome Things Happen

If you didn't know what I meant when said I made hencakes this morning, then this picture might clarify things. Hencakes have been a breakfast {lunch, dinner, snack} tradition for quite some time, but never-ever have my hencakes been so marvelously honored and appreciated as they have been today. Without further ado, I offer you Sarah C's exquisitely illustrated Very Small Man Riding Giant Rooster:

I didn't know this day could get much better! Sarah, for seeing the magic in the Hencake, you are officially the first recipient of the Chickenblog Hencake Circle of Awesome, with honors and benefits.

Early Hibernation and Other Autumn Pleasures

We are in fog. It's wonderful. Our neighborhood, the view from the bedroom window, is blanketed, soft, grey. Autumn is really here. There are trees with red and golden leaves, there are pumpkins in home gardens, the markets, dotting the farm field on the bluffs by the sea. Last night I lit a candle, set it in the hallway, and was inspired to organize the counter, there, dust the photographs and vases. This morning I made hencakes... that may have more to do with a good night's sleep than fog, but I am so blissfully pleased and content I will assign all good things to fog, and God. For a moment, my thoughts are insulated, too, and all the worries and sadness of the world are a safe distance away. For me, this season means calm, reflection, whimsy, gratitude, and it fills me with the happy anticipation of peace and light, of home and family holidays, of getting quiet, of giving. If this were a season for making wishes, I would wish that all of our best intentions, all of the lighthearted, and peace-minded celebrations would spread from home to home, from each of us to everywhere, for everyone.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Five Good Things

Tasha Tudor Goat & Ada Lovelace Goat

Good things...

1. No losses, except feathers, when the bobcat came to call.

2. Being invited. {Even if you cannot play, but especially if you can... it's just feels so nice to be included.}

3. Being invited and knowing when to, graciously, say 'no, thank you.'

4. These cool days, the grey, the mist, the relief.

5. Max planning a birthday celebration for his good friend Lucas, and seeing them happily immersed in their card game.

No, I don't love Mondays. And this one is being particularly crushing. I suppressed all the voices and urges to skip the good things, to itemize all the aggravations, and frustrations, and... it sort of helps? Who am I kidding? Sometimes a Monday is just too much, too soon, and it's a good thing I can get breakfast, lunch, clean clothes, brushed hair, a backpack, shoes, and two children where they need to go, all in twenty minutes... without any collateral damages. I sure hope you are having a serene, organized, healthy, and rested Monday morning. Please share some of your good things.

Friday, September 19, 2014

{this moment}

A single photo, capturing a moment from the week.
A special moment. A moment I want to remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

William is helping me refurbish the old ratty house.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Five Good Things

We put in an art studio! It was just one of those typical weekend warrior projects where you add a new room to your home, then decorate it, and settle in. Not really. What really happened is this... we let Maria decide if it was time to let go of her play kitchen in the closet beneath the stairs. A big part of me was ready to hear her say No! No, please don't donate this play kitchen that I tower over, because I am nearly ten years old, and not a toddler any more! Please let me keep it and remind you of all the young child play we've enjoyed here! But, apparently she is better adjusted and more rational about these things than I am, and with just the right amount of sentimentality and respect, she agreed that she was ready to recreate the nook beneath the stairs, ready to let go of some things she has {sadly} outgrown.

Once she hit upon the idea of having an art studio, she couldn't wait to sort everything out of her kitchen and into a trash bag, a recycling bag, and a donation bag... and one modest box for some of the dearest kitchen treasures {I was so relieved.}

It was a lot of work, and in this awful heat wave, too, but never mind... I will spare you most of the details.

Have I implied, yet, that this was an emotional process for me? She's my youngest baby. The last baby... besides that imp of a cat we call Mister Foo. Apparently, when she hits that double digit, t-e-n, she will be a "tween." Good grief. Not only am I not emotionally stable enough to cope with that time is passing reality, I am not cognitively, nor culturally, receptive to the notion of "tween." Let's just say, I think children are worthy of a childhood, rich, challenging, and evenly paced, and I have no interest in nurturing or hastening the cultural phenomenon of "teens, rebels, angst, and the too old for this, too young for that void" that is thrust on our young people.

Was that a rant?

A little bit, maybe.

Have I implied, yet, that this was an emotional process for me?

Like Maria, I am really excited about this new addition to the Bird House. Drawing, painting, and clay art supplies are now housed in the studio, the space that Maria wanted to create and use. Collecting useful pieces from all over the house, and adding two new sets of pullout drawers, the studio is a tidy and inspiring space, much better suited to her growing love of art. Which is not to say that she's done with cooking or her life long Flower Garden's Restaurant dream: Those dreams and skills are alive and well, and have moved into the real kitchen, with real appliances, real food, and cooking!

Our art-craft-making interests are many. Many! And our supplies are an embarrassment of riches. There is hardly a media, theme, or interest we haven't dabbled in. Metal, welding, blacksmithing, jewelry making, felting, crochet, painting, drawing, stamp making, carpentry, leather, carving, quilting, tailoring, clothes design, sculpture, candle making, polymer clay, mold making, robotics, craftapalooza... and more. So much making, tinkering, playing! Luckily, Maria was clear that the studio space would be for painting and drawing. "Especially drawing." All other make supplies, tools, and treasures will be stashed, stored, and stuffed throughout the rest of the Bird House! And the studio, cozy and tidy, will be the place to find paint, brushes, paper, and Maria, at her table {which she may outgrow in 6 months! Good grief.}

I used to have an utter disdain for labels. I was certain that printing "the obvious" was ridiculously pointless. No more. I have turned completely in another direction, and I am labeling everything. Nothing can be "too obvious." I should label my purse, my toothbrush, my keys. I have labeled my kitchen drawers, and the box I keep on my nightstand. There's no telling where, or when, I will stop identifying all things and spaces, and things in their spaces. I am keenly wagering on this labeling habit to make me a better person, a tidier, lovelier human being.

Foo approves.

When you live with a cat, you know you have something good, something worthwhile, because they will show up and sit on it. This is their way of saying, "Yes, this is a good book. These are important papers. You are right to be interested in this task, so I will lay across it, so you know I approve."

Mister Foo also seemed to be communicating his willingness to be the subject of the first studio art. The inaugural art, if you please.

He can be so obliging. Sometimes.

This morning I found Maria in here. The morning light shines across the hall, from the laundry closet. It's nice. Maria did her homework in here last night. It's nice to see her enjoying her new space happiness.

It's dear to see her embrace her interests, explore new ones, too.

A portrait of my fur baby, by Maria. He looks, almost sweet.



Good things...

1. Spaces to call our own.

2. Going out to dinner with friends... and air conditioning.

3. Cold showers, fans, ice cubes, and the fervent hope that this heat, too, shall pass.

4. Letting go, gracefully, and making way for new things.

5. Care packages from my mommy, because I love being her baby.

Mondays are so much easier to face when I think about the good things, and I love to hear what you are thinking about, too.