Monday, March 30, 2015

Five or More Good Things

Sometimes, as I look through photographs I've taken, a message comes through... sometimes it's obviously about the subject, about what we did, and saw. Sometimes the photographs tell me something that I need to be reminded of, like Get out of your house, the world holds new wonders. Go see your friends, discover something! I love being home. I love the comfort of our space (even in this moment, when every inch of our home is turned on end with our projects!) But, sometimes, out there, in our own town, I get reconnected with people I've been missing, with places I like, and I find our community is small, and great, with beauty, and warmth.

At home, I am happy surrounded by familiar things... things which also demand my time and attention. It's not hard to feel compelled and obliged to stay home and do laundry, paperwork, weeding, fretting (over paint chips, and the things not getting done!)

At home, we've been eating on the porch, or perched on a free seat, anywhere a space opens up. The living room is empty, about to get new flooring! The rest of the house looks like a resale shop, complete with dust, and hidden treasures.

At home, there are peaceful moments, spots where I can recharge. Of course, sometimes those same spots are invaded with clothes that need folding, or cats that assume. This is the moment when I'd finally managed a half-way decent hair bun for Maria's dance performance, and we were dashing out to get to the rehearsal on time. Looking back, I saw Chango and Foo... making themselves right at home.

The Ballet Folklorico group Maria dances with was invited to an Art Festival. I was so preoccupied with managing our time, helping Maria get ready, thinking of what else was left to accomplish in the day, that I'd overlooked the good things I could look forward to, the friends I would see, the beauty of the event. Holly and Ruth met us there, and right away we saw George and Liz, then Carol with Leo and Michael. I got a big hug from Michelle H. We went to room 100 to see FIRST 2102 practicing with their robot... they have been a strong, remarkable team this year! Maria met Mark Patterson, the artist and visionary, who made The Surfing Madonna! We enjoyed the good food the high school's Culinary Arts students prepared... yummy falafel, and a messy-amazing ice cream sandwich! There were all kinds of arts to look at, to try, and musicians to enjoy. Maria and I loved listening to the high school band, especially seeing and hearing Max O, Bella C., and Austin D. play.

The pictures I took on Sunday are such a nice reminder of what we have in this town, with our neighbors, friends, family... we have an extended home, and it's good to get out there, and take it in.

Get ready for Jesusita en Chihuahua! I will be posting, soon.

Good Things...

1. Maria and Nathalie's play date, when they made me that darling bouquet in the kitty creamer, and they made lemonade, and played Guess Who.

2. Max hanging out with Lucas; knowing my friend Diana's home is another happy place for Max.

3. Following Diana's FB thread about college acceptance letters for Eric. He got into some great places... any of them will be lucky to have him!

4. All the wood working creativity Alex has been up to... and his plans for a Middle Earth party!

5. Geoff is still home! I love it when he gets a break!

6. Geoff is finishing Frankenrouter! That is super geeky-make awesome news.

7. When Maria is tucked into bed, the cats, chickens and goats are secure, Geoff and I are upstairs dozing off, and from downstairs we hear great peals of hearty laughter from William, Alex, and Max... so good!

It's Monday. Do you want to share some good things?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Weigh Hey and Up She Rises!

Fourth grade. Maria has anticipated fourth grade, and its special activities and rites of passages, since first grade. It's the same for fifth and six grade... she's known about the egg drop from the hundred foot ladder truck, and camp in Cuyamaca, and she has been eagerly anticipating, even preparing for all of it, since she was six years old. And now, she has experienced a big one, the night on the Star of India, working as a mate aboard the world's oldest active sailing ship with her classmates, teacher, and best of all, her dad as one of the chaperones. When I realized that Geoff's break might align with this trip, I was excited, too, because it was such a great opportunity for him to participate in something very special. As a driver to and from San Diego, I did get snippets of their experience, like hearing the captain remind parents that they needed to be there for safety, as observers, but should otherwise "Sit on your hands, and keep quiet," because this adventure is about the children, not adults out to prove they are the smartest fourth graders! Funny, and wise. Parents were not in their own children's groups, either, so as much as possible the students could immerse themselves in 1850, sailing to California for a gold rush opportunity. Maria's wish to be a mate, taking orders from the first mate, and taking charge of her own crew, came true, and she was assigned to the fore deck, and walked the first watch until 11 o'clock at night. They ate rat stew, and slept below decks on the ship's wood floor. They even slipped into the long, dark and narrow passage to inspect the bilge! They raised sails, heard yarns, and swabbed the decks. And they sang! And danced! All the songs Maria and Geoff have been learning, those unsavory lyrics, and funny tunes!

Everyone came off the ship smiling and well-worn out, some a bit bewildered... either lack of sleep or the return to the 21st century was to blame. Maria is still beaming, three days later, and still singing those shanties, Geoff, too. Geoff says it was something he will never forget, and he's glad he went. Maria is bursting with stories, and marvelous little facts and tidbits about life on a ship, her duties, and sympathies. For me, it was a chance to step back, and wait and see. It's bittersweet to see that overnight, Maria grew. I can't help wanting to be part of everything she does, to be needed, but this life of hers is blossoming so nicely, I am very happy to enjoy the sweetness of her making it her own. Next year: That much anticipated egg toss from the hundred foot ladder truck! And, we solemnly vow to leave all the engineering and construction of her egg cage in her very capable hands!

8:04 am, Post Script :: Their Fates

Geoff and Maria are up. Geoff's got an ear-worm, and has been whistling the one about Nelson's blood {shudder... what a gruesome yarn that goes with that shanty!} The tune echoes in our empty living room. This Chcikenblog post brought up more stories from their voyage, and Maria mentioned, in passing, something about everyone 'getting their fates,' and I had to ask her, 'Fates?' All the sailors chose either to stay on the ship, be dropped off in the Sandwich Islands, or head to the gold fields of California, and then next morning they received their fates. Maria said hers was one of the weirdest fates: "I chose to go to Hawaii, the Sandwich Islands, but then I was struck by lightning while on board the ship," she paused for dramatic effect. It worked. I did not think this was a happy fate, and then she added the weird bit, "The lightning strike left me 'enlightened,' and I became a fortune teller in Hong Kong!" Weird, indeed. Geoff's fate... it's so plausible I can't stop laughing: He chose to stay aboard the ship, and his fate? Well, naturally, he worked hard, rose through the ranks, and this led to him eventually {inevitably?} becoming captain of his own ship! I love it.

Friday, March 27, 2015

{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.

H.M.S. Pinafore on the porch, with a cat, and a chicken, in spring.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Chain Reaction Spreading Far and Wide, and Other Domestic Perils

We are in the middle of a simple little update to our existing porch. Nothing too elaborate, you know. Just add a roof, replace rotted beams, add some metal brackets to hold things up, slap some screen fabric on there, maybe paint a bit. Easy peasy. Lemon squeezy.

Ba! Hahahahaha... good one!

Actually, I do not have a single complaint, not one... okay one: We had to order doors three times! But that's been it... the only hiccup in this whole venture. {So far.} Easy peasy. Lemon squeezy. And I have always wondered if it's possible to go through a remodel or construction in an orderly, stress-free, timely manner, because it seems to me, from plenty of first-hand experience, that Home Improvement is synonymous with Headaches, Trials, Setbacks, Delays, Collateral Damages, and Moments of Profound Regret.

Now I am learning something new: When things run smoothly, when the results look great, and no one has been to the ER, or moved into a motel, there is a temptation, a huge compulsion, to keep going, to add more to the To-Do List of Wishful Thinking. And that, my friends is where we are today... on the cutting edge of doing a little bit more. Nothing too elaborate, you know, just repair the ceiling from the rain leak damage in the living room, then replace the broken tiles on the fire place hearth, rip out that grey-brownish carpeting that was once... light beige? It's a chain reaction! Somehow, nearly every room in the house is affected, as we move things around, making way for painting the porch, or reassigning furniture for a new purpose, culling the art supplies from the cabinets and drawers throughout the house, that will all reside on the porch. While we are at it, moving and shifting, we are also purging. Cleaning. Yeah, that's why it looks like an ol'curiosity shop, and salvage yard. It looks like this because we are cleaning, and working, and facing mounds of domestic perils.

Last night I spied the window dressings that hang above two windows and the doors in our kitchen. They're plaid, a shiny fabric, well made, and (once) well suited to the room... but. Not my taste. Not offensive, mind you, but as we really settle-in, and make the Bird House our own... those curtains are suddenly glaring at me, clashing, and begging to be updated. Alex agreed, adding, "They make the windows look like Colonial women in bonnets." And so, the chain reaction spreads, and our Colonial look has got to go!

Quick question: If your living room had not been painted in 11 years, and it was empty of furniture and flooring, wouldn't you feel compelled to paint it? Maybe a new color, or at least a fresh coat of the same?
Yeah. I thought so, too.

I Spy, anyone?

A ratty rat named Hazel Nutt.

A Tyrannosaurs Rex.

A mystery metal piece Alex found on the beach, that is being investigated by the Maritime Museum.

Yellow roses.

The dining table.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Five or More Good Things

Aunt Margie is in town, visiting from her Chicago home. I have such happy recollections of visits with Margie. There haven't been nearly enough visits, but each of them of them has been very nice. We shared St Patrick's Day dinner at Tutu Ruth's, and a rousing game of white elephant with dearly wrapped gifts from Margie. We brought home a collection of light-up toys and fiber optics... fun stuff that the kids made a show of all the way home. Then yesterday, Tutu Ruth and Margie came to the Bird House for a late morning brunch... {or, is late morning the definition of brunch? Never mind.} We feasted. Good food, and good company... I just love how those two enhance each other. We walked through the neighborhood, which is a particularly pleasant thing to do when someone has been enduring a long winter! Margie was delighted with every green leaf and blossom, even the flies were appreciated. Anything was better than freezing temperatures!

{Oh shoot! I just remembered that I forgot. Darn. I wanted to sit with Margie and have another crochet lesson from her. Seven years ago she (tried) to teach me a unique kind of double-waffle stitch... it's difficult to start, but easy once it's passed the first two rows, but I cannot remember how to start it. I need a refresher!!}

Alex and Max started on the carving of the Viking tent's A-frame... our genuine inauthentic Viking tent. The tops of the tent poles will be carved as dragon's wings. I guess I lost the petition for the Viking tent to have a chicken aesthetic!

Good Things...

1. Fruit salad, banana pancakes, watermelon, yellow baby roses, quiche, fresh made lemonade, croissants... we didn't eat the roses, but they sure looked beautiful on our brunch table.

2. Being invited for another delicious dinner prepared by friends Mark and Jola.

3. Maria enjoying the challenge of learning a new dance to perform for an Art Festival.

4. Math 24 coaching for Maria from Alex S and Jola.

5. The return of Mike, and the commencement of phase two: Finishing the porch, and repairing the ceiling of the living room, etc... Things are looking really amazing around here.

6. Things are upside down, shifted, and in an upheaval, too... but I like where things are going!

7. We are getting close to spring break.

Blogging has slowed down, for a number of reasons, and not just here, but all over the blogosphere. It seems to be a fading genre... it's certainly changed since I started 13 years ago. I've toyed with quitting, often. But today, searching through archives, recalling wonderful moments from long ago, I am reminded that Chickenblog is a nice diary, a precious scrapbook. I may not post everyday, or about every passing event, but I don't think I can ever quit blogging, not for reals. As always, engagement is the best part of blogging, and if you would like to share some good things from your week... please do~

Friday, March 20, 2015

{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.

Alex sculpting something new. Something for Hobbits.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Still Life In March

If life were still, I would make the time to write a lengthy blog post, all about happenings around here, with deep thoughts about being a mom, navigating college things with her third son. I would tell the story of the big table that spent too much time in the rain and the sun, then was saved from the brink by Alex, and a belt sander. I would discuss paint colors, and ordering screen doors, how the porch has become the favorite spot, and has begun a chain reaction of domestic conquest and rehabilitation. If life were still, I would make invitations to an afternoon tea, that kind of party that slips into the evening, with friends lingering over plates, laughing, recharging, stars. I'd invite everyone, and listen to your stories, too.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Inside :: Outside :: Around

Besides schools, and Geoff's work, everything around the Bird House is revolving around finishing our screened porch. There's a pretty long list of things yet to be done, like painting, waiting on the screen doors, adding baseboards, refinishing our old wood table... and the list of things already accomplished is even longer, so we are actually feeling good, motivated, and eager to see this through. Yesterday, Alex jumped into the big job of refinishing our outdoor dining table. It's suffered from long exposure to sun, rain, and more sun, so Alex took a belt sander to it, and basically took an 1/8th of an inch of the top. William and Alex inspected the boards we've been attaching, and reattaching, and they seem to be holding up, so far, but we need to fill the cracked boards, and the cracks between boards... which introduces the Bondo and paint vs. Resin, Stain, and Seal debate. Although, maybe it's not a debate, because last night we bought Bondo and paint. Natural wood is beautiful, but this table may have seen a little too much nature.

No one knows for sure what the chickens make of all this activity, but we are thankful that they are happy and healthy, and moving back into full time egg production. Only Little Debbie and Kamen are in laying retirement. Kamen is four years old this week! That's not a record in chicken years, but it's pretty old, especially when we recall the savage bobcat attack she survived. She's definitely been a miraculous hen... what pluck! Little Debbie has six months to go to reach her fourth hatch-day

Last night's dinner was one of those that raised doubt, and suspicion, in my mind, even as I was cooking it. My first thought was to serve scrambled eggs and potatoes for dinner, but then a creative bee got in my bonnet, and I foraged in our garden for some Swiss chard, salvaged a leek from the refrigerator, and tested a new soy-free, vegetarian breakfast sausage, for a frittata. I think it was the sausage that threw it off course... it smelled strongly of maple, but had a distinctly not special flavor. The potatoes, steamed, then roasted with herbs and olive oil, were delicious. The frittata was edible, and there were no actual complaints, but farm fresh eggs and garden chard deserve better... no more "Field Roast," grain meat brekkie sausages, thank you.

While we ate dinner Max shared his vision for his next birthday {August} and it sounds pretty awesome... it involves chocolate donuts, and a long, long drive {destination to be determined.} Alex's birthday is the next one we will celebrate and he debated possible themes. Naturally, Maria thought about her birthday, too! Celebrations have been on our minds a lot, lately, because we are so eager to share the porch, and take maximum advantage of all the new possibilities. But before we pick a theme, send out invitations... I need to sand battered chairs, clear out cupboards, and move a lot of things around, inside and outside.