Friday, April 13, 2018

New Day, Same Lesson

Good habits can unravel, best intentions need to be revisited and revised, when I fall... I gotta get back up, when off course... adjust the sails. Basically, the lesson I seem to need reminding of, again and again, is to do with entropy: The gradual decline to disorder, that things can come together, and they can fall apart. All too often, I get discouraged, or overwhelmed when things fall apart, when there is too much to do, when I get sick, or someone else needs extra care, when I've watched too much news, or faced plagues in succession. Actually, entropy is the first part of the lesson, and where I get stuck is between recognizing the entropy, it's natural and inevitable appearance, and impact, and accepting that I must start over. All too often, I feel like I have failed, like most of my efforts are exercises in futility... (not productive or empowering reactions,) and then I wallow a bit (quite a bit, honestly), and then I rationalize, and writhe and flail for a time. Oh, dear.

I wrote an entire paragraph about what I have come to believe are the origins of my attitudes and bad habits, and then I realized that none of that is particularly compelling to anyone, but a small self-satisfied and grasping part of my brain that wants to understand everything, and feel exonerated or absolved of wrongdoing. Sorry, brain, but this is just one of those things. You may have been duped or misled, but you simply must move forward. And so, to put it more simply... I am not good at maintaining order, and I feel incompetent and trounced, but here I go... it seems we are not moving, and fairies are no where to be found, so old patterns, and wishful thinking, will not do. I will pick myself up, and begin again.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Dear Maria...

Dear Maria,

As you know, I have fallen in love with chamomile. It's my favorite tea, along with chai. Chamomile tea has come to feel like a gentle friend that will keep me company... a quiet, uncomplicated companion, warm and supportive. Now, even the fragrance of the tea relaxes me, puts my thoughts at ease. And so, when I discovered that the fresh cut flowers smell like a bowl of steaming tea, like a meadow of flowers, I became completely enchanted. I love their button-cushioned faces, and the tiny petals. They are like the first flowers children draw... simple. But when I look into their faces and really see them, I am drawn into the complexity of their parts, the tiny details that belie their easy form.

Last week I discovered that there is another variety of chamomile with no petals. They are all golden yellow button-cushioned, on long and slender stems that sway gracefully when I turn the vase. Someday you and I should make chamomile crowns, or wreaths. Yes?

Golden yellow. It's the color that, lately, has captivated me. It began after Christmas, when I put yellow roses next to the tulips from Paul and Janece, then we tidied up the holidays, and reorganized the table at the back of our sofa. I love the holidays, and then I feel a slump when it's all over, but I think my second favorite time of the year begins when we've put away decorations and found homes for the gifts, when everything is restored, and even refreshed. Then, when things feel decluttered, and new, I get the feeling that we have a fresh start. The yellow flowers brightened my mood, and the room, and I have been craving the color ever since. And doubly more, since the workshop was painted blue. I love that blue... the blue that I post about, and share, and have been contemplating since forever. Wall by wall, bit by bit, we are getting our Bird House Blue, and I think it looks really pretty with golden yellow flowers.

Dear Maria,

There it is. I keep taking pictures of the shop. When I am at the kitchen sink and looking out the window, I can see it through our garden. From the spot at the dining table where I sew, or the other corner where I paint, I can see it, too. And of course when we are outside, feeding chickens, or watering the seedlings, or picking chard... we see it. Our workshop. And we see your brothers and dad, working away at all of the renovations. Of all of the improvements we dream of making for our home, I think the one that I most wish for and imagine, revolve around a fantastic workshop and maker space, with open areas and worktables, with lots of storage, good light, ventilation. It's inspiring to imagine what could be built and shared in such a place, how much easier and safer it could be in a really good shop, which is why I am so glad that Geoff, William, Alex and Max are tackling the job, doing what they can with the space we have. It's going to be amazing, really. I wish it could be bigger... but never mind. What they are accomplishing is pretty great. I am beginning to think of this summer as a time for great making, all because of the efforts and investment being put into making the carport a real workshop.

There is a lot in life that can be made better, can give back to us, when we put our work and planning, our time and care into it. I am thinking of our garden. I am so glad we planted chard, and sweet peas, and snapdragons. Clearing out an old garden bed, amending soil, pulling weeds, and starting with little seedlings, then watering, and minding the pests and willing things to take... it's an act of hope, and effort, work. It can feel pointless, at times, or we can lose sight of the benefits to come. In fact, there may not be any benefits. The goats could escape and eat the chard down to nothing, or snails could destroy those little seedlings. I guess that's why we need the hope to go along with the work. We've been fortunate this year, and hard working, too. Now, when I pick flowers and we fix onions and chard, peas, with our dinner, I feel lucky. Really lucky, and we are fortunate, but I like to remind myself that planning, and effort, months ago, and every day since, made the luck grow, made the garden possible.

You know, mi'ja, I didn't always understand that... about planning, and foreseeing good things, and then working for the results. Believing that a good outcome is a result of hoping and working, being steadfast to a plan. Your Dad, taught me that, showed me, countless times, by example. So much of what we have accomplished has been by hope and work, and patience. We have been lucky, of course, but it's not enough to wait for an opportunity to come around, or to hope things get better. I guess that intellectually I understood it, but sometimes what we know is not as powerful as what we believe, what we take to heart. With your Dad, I have come to believe, to trust in what is possible... maybe it's the optimism and faith that has made the difference.

Dear Maria,

The banana bread you made was delicious. Over-ripe bananas aren't usually what one hopes for, but I wish we had some now! At least we have plenty of eggs on hand. Let's buy bananas, then wait...

How many yo-yo's did we make at Gaslight Gathering, I wonder. I'm glad I brought so many little blue circles. After all of our fair and event experiences, exhibiting and teaching, I was happily surprised to have so much free time, and now I am looking forward to turning our tiny yo-yo's into the mini quilt. What did you think of my idea to appliqué them to a little bedspread? Otherwise, it will definitely have a lot of gapes.


Leslie and Ido, with Bex~

Meeting the band~

We were both surprised, I think... to have such a relaxed time. We work so hard at Maker Faire. It's fun, but whew! I think it's pretty amusing how easy this event felt, and how much we are now looking forward to committing to returning, next year, to exhibit and to play. We had a good time, and it felt familiar, and comfortable, being back in a steampunk crowd. I enjoy all of the outreach, hands-on activities, and exhibiting we do with our BOoM making group. Making things, sharing and teaching... what is it that makes it so compelling, so gratifying? It's satisfying, and feels good. Now, I feel even more excited for Scratch Day, too. I know Geoff and William had a good day, but I think we can agree... Alex had a really, really good day! It's nice to see his art recognized.

Thank you, mi'ja. I won't say it all here, on the Internet, but I can't help saying a little... you are a joy, and bring immeasurable pleasure to your family. You raise my thoughts and give me courage. I thought a great deal about the lessons and support that I hoped to offer you, but that you could teach, and inspire so much in me... this has been an amazing gift. It is an honor to be around you, to observe your journey, and share your days. You are one of my best dreams coming true, and I love you.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018


Last night a friend and I texted each other our woes, in strictly vague and generalized terms, and then we groused a bit over the utterly vacuous, and violent, state of things, from the Tippy Top, down. Then we sighed, then we lol'd, then we agreed to get together soon, in real life. And then I asked her, "Did we fix something?" And I asked, because I felt better. I had been wound up and feeling hapless (I am not even going to Google that, because in this instance hapless means... helplessly unhappy, needing help, and essentially drained of hopeful sentiments.) I was feeling hapless, but with just that little exchange, with no resolutions or platitudes, I suddenly had the lightness of feeling some relief, as though a stone were removed from my shoe, or a leak was repaired, a puzzle solved. What a gift it is to have a friend... especially the kind that addresses you as Chica hermosa, or Honeybun, or My sweet baboo. The world may be upside down, but I've got a sweet baboo on speed dial.

My nerves and soul need soothing, calming. I need pure chamomile, straight, concentrated, unrefined. I am taking it in tea, in bouquets, in wholesale.

And yellow. Golden petals, sunshine hues. Anything that complements the new coats of blue paint on the workshop. I love love love the blue I see out the window from the kitchen sink, from the dining table, when I walk to the chickens, and around the garden. I pay it homage with egg yolk yellow ranunculus, and daydreams of towering sunflowers.

Alex is painting. Max is studying. William is figuring things out. Geoff is winding things down, and sees a break coming, any day now. Maria is registered for high school, and diligently preparing, happily anticipating.

And I am still sketching. Still playing with India ink and ratty-rats. I have stacks and books, and nests of ratty-rats, and other works. Works in Progress, attempts, sketches, rough drafts... I am still using the language of someone unsure, a student, an apologetic novice, and I don't know what to do with all these rats and other works. A long time ago, I dreamt of writing books, especially for children, but I wanted to illustrate them. I wanted to illustrate them, but I was no artist, and I was too shy or lazy or busy or doubtful to learn. Now, I am learning, and I think, "Maybe now I can write a book. Maybe." Only, I seem to have lost the muse for writing. Is it a muse? Or am I too shy, too doubtful, or busy? I have been trying. It feels downside up, not having a story, but feeling closer to having the pictures.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Some Pictures From My Phone

Next month is my anniversary of blogging, Chickenblogging. I will have been blogging for sixteen years. There have been 3,736 times when I had something to say, to share, to express, wanted to demonstrate a process, to show a thing that I found beautiful or sad, or absurd, and I published it in this space, my blog. Early on, the pictures I shared were all in my head, and I relied on my words to convey what I saw. My skills and the technology available, were limited. These days, it's all about the pictures. I love that I can share them, and I think using the blog as our photo album is probably the most compelling reason for maintaining my blog... I just enjoy keeping up our picture book, marking passages, reflecting on the days we are living. Of course, I can't talk about blogging without saying how much I've loved and appreciated comments, discussions, exchanges, friendships, visits, meeting up... we've been very fortunate to enjoy a whole spectrum of connections through blogging, and that has been priceless.

What got me started on this? Oh. Yes. I was about to share another batch of pictures from the last few days, and I thought, Why am I posting these? What do I have to say about this assortment of cats, flowers, and house-paint photographs? And it's quite possible I have no good reason at all, beyond the simple notion that we've had some nice moments this week, moments when I had to take a picture, because I wanted to hold a memory, an experience, faces, feelings, and remember them, keep them where I could revisit them, and feel thankful, connected.

Lately, I've been thinking... Chickenblog is real. There is no "fake news" here. I am not gathering your data for my spy network, and I don't try to grab your attention with sensationalized headlines, and pages of pop-up ads. I feel kind of happy that I didn't let this become a Yoga-Mom-Cosmetics-Fashion-Gossip blog with all sponsored content, and glossy pictures. I am even relieved that I am still coming in under the radar, doing my own thing, not corporate. Good or bad, I can enjoy that as blogs come and go, we are simple and sincere, and uniquely our own.

March 29~

Alex and I were visiting a shop with lots of salvaged funk and found treasures, and when I saw this sign, I was reminded of another Garden of Weeden sign, back in Massachusetts. I am always thankful to be reminded of my dear friend, and our many connections, and moments of synchronicity, and serendipity.

March 30~

Cairo Approves. That's what I am calling my interior design shop, or my decorating style. I bring it home, because I like it, then the cat checks it out, and if he approves, it stays. It's quite eclectic, as you might imagine.

Everyday I pass a nondescript section of roadside embankment, but now there's lupine growing there, and it's made the small section breathtaking. Traffic moves at a good clip on this road, and it could be easy to miss the wildflowers, which is why I am glad I decided to stop. I pulled off the road, and wound my way around to a spot above the embankment, where I could get out and approach the tall stalks of purple blooms. Cars and trucks whiz by at highway speed, and the meadow of wildflowers, is only a seven square foot patch, at most, but their beauty and resilience give me the feeling of being in the middle of a field, a broad and open space, and I can make-believe that the flowers grow on from horizon to horizon.

William, Grant, Paul, and Geoff, on the phone with Fred, at the International Banana Museum. Hello, Fred? Are you in? A bunch of us are about to split, and make our way to your appealing museum. We've heard it's the top banana of plantain museums.

They did it, too. They got into Grant's Bananamobile and headed east, to the Yeti in the desert, to iron giant dragons and insects, to a Salton Sea, and Salvation Mountain, and to the place where everyone knows Grant's name... the International Banana Museum. Their quest for the ultimate in singular fruit expression was epic. Really, really epic.

This guy. He's on his way to Tokyo, the sensei. When I get a chance, I would love to post some of the pictures from the Epic Banana Split. You could not write a wilder, nuttier send-off for a great friend and adventurer. We won't say good-bye... but, see you later.

And while the Banana Bunch was in the desert, I stayed home with my cold or flu, or whatever this ailment is, and boiled eggs, sketched, napped, puttered, and gazed at the new wall of gorgeous blue paint on our nearly completed workshop. I love that blue.

April 1~

It happened that many events were landing on the first of the month, including the celebrated return of the Banana Bunch, Easter, our cats' birthday celebration, and April Fool's day. And really, due to the extreme nuttiness of the Epic Banana Split, the greater part of the day was spent in recovery and mellowness. There was some artistic painting, some sketching, more napping, more flower and house paint appreciation, a burger dinner, friends dropping by, a little CnC talk, and a bit of Gaslight Gathering planning. All in all, this day was not bananas.

Chango is 18 years old, and Cairo is 2. We celebrated them with even more affection and indulgences than usual.

I just love how many pictures I can take with my phone.