Friday, February 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.

Our porch is becoming a screened porch. And because Geoff is still in crunch-mode at work, and still recovering, we are blessed and delighted to have help... good help! And so, things are moving swiftly, relatively easily, as though the five years of anticipation, the year of planning, and configuring, will be behind us in a moment, and in another fleeting moment we will have a new space to gather friends, to sleep through hot summer nights, to play, and craft, and make things, to tinker, to daydream. The rotted post and joist are gone, and the shade beams are out. Mike removed the facade from the posts, and lowered the pitch of the roof. Plywood sheeting is already halfway up, and maybe some of the tin roof will be installed in time for this weekend's rain. {My job in this is to convince our hens to increase egg production... we would like to send a breakfast's worth to our friends, in thanks for introducing us to Mike.}

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mission San Juan Capistrano Postcard Day

California state history, including the missions, are the focus of fourth grade studies, and this week Maria and I made a special class visit to the mission in San Juan Capistrano, only an hour away by train. I will spare you the historic tidbits and trivia I have amassed over the years, because Wikipedia can probably do it better, anyway. As close to home as this mission is, as many times as I have stopped in San Juan Capistrano in forty-eight years, this was the first time I've been into the mission. It was a gorgeous day... a postcard day, and well worth the trip. I especially loved the gardens, and the areas where we could see how things were done... like the tallow vats, the kitchen, where they forged metal. As a chaperone, I was accompanied by Maria and four of her classmates, including her friend, Emma. After our self guided audio tour, we ate lunch on the lawn, then made the short trek back to the train station. {Five Stars... Five Thumbs Up... Five Fat Hens... I rank the train ride and stop in San Juan Capistrano very highly for the gorgeous ocean views, and relaxing ride, for the central station, convenient to sights, dining, shopping, and scenic walking.}

Riding home... backwards. I had forgotten how gorgeous this ride can be, how often there is only bluff and sand between the train and the Pacific Ocean. And. We saw dolphins playing in the surf. Yes, dolphins. Actually, we see dolphins playing in the surf, from the beach, often, but everything that happens on a train is somehow magnified in awesomeness... like riding backwards, seeing the ocean, eating chips and guacamole... Awesome!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Five Good Things

Weekend time... a chance to see Geoff {rare occasions during the height of crunch-mode,} breakfast out, and the general pleasures of some down time from school and office. I brought my down time basket... it's brimming with embroidery floss, needles, fabrics, yarn, hooks, scissors, and I try to keep it on hand so I can finish, and start, projects.

My latest interest has been shawls. For about ten years I have wondered how to crochet a shawl, and I have seen some really gorgeous ones, too. I made some independent {I don't need no stinkin' instructions!} attempts, with hilariously disastrous results. It amuses me to realize how many years I can live with an idea, be inspired to learn something, and just let the days go by until it feels right. Well, I finally jumped in, and with a quick search on YouTube I found Brittany, and her Granny Triangle Shawl tutorial. I made a blue shawl for myself. It was so easy! Seriously! Do I wait, because fate will align all the elements and things will fall into proper order? Do I wait because I am a dork, and forget to take advantage of all the amazing and readily available opportunities at hand? Brittany's tutorial is great, and in no time I had the pattern and rhythm rocking. And while our breakfast order was on its way, I had a moment to gather loose ends on a red shawl for Maria.

Max's new semester is in full swing. He's taking Calculus II, and AP physics, American History, and weight training. He loves all of his classes. Everyday he has something new to share with us, and on this day we enjoyed a thorough discussion about aerodynamics... what makes a plane fly? He's got it down, and was happy to begin Maria in her physics education. I love that I used to homeschool some of my children, and that now they are far ahead of what I could instruct. These days, I get the lessons from them. They teach me so much, on so many subjects, and I love the experience of seeing them excited about what they are learning.

Good Things...

1. We may be only days away from a crunch mode slow down, as the game Geoff has been working at is nearly finished... first things will ease up, and then there will be a much deserved break!

2. It might rain. The forecast has been a crushing disappointment, so far, but there is still hope that rain will come. {Finally... it's raining. I really must get rid of that weather app... it stinks}

3. The chickens are really getting into the egg laying mood, and we are finally seeing more colors, more sizes, more eggs! We may be back in business, soon.

4. Dance classes for Maria have been intense as they prepare for this week's school talent show. The challenge has been choreographing for a constantly changing group... there are no two classes alike, and so once a week the dance they are rehearsing has to be re-choreographed. Maria still loves ballet folklorico and is as devoted as ever. It's impressive to see how much she has learned since November.

5. William is experimenting in the kitchen... and we have enjoyed some tasty new recipes, all made gluten, dairy, and sugar-free, no nuts, no seeds, no beans. The limitations are not easy, but he is finding success and pleasure in the new foods, and challenges.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saturday, Cat and Flowers

Mister Washburn Foo, and all of us Bird House cats, wish you a warm, inspiring, playful, and bright weekend.

Friday, February 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.

Mending sheets, building illusions, sorting papers...

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bird House & Barn

... a Farm Report~

Sure, it's February, but one cannot assume that the month of February falls in winter. February 2015, here at the Bird House, will be recalled as the fairest summer in memory. No rain, so far. No blustery cold, nor excuse to don long underwear. Instead, beach weather, and parasols for shade. I stocked up on cold weather feed for our hens and goats... organic lay crumble with some bits of grain to keep the chicas insulated and content. The goats have a rich supply of alfalfa, a hay better suited for actual winter weather. The one nice thing about this unwinter is that the hens have decided to raise their egg production. I don't think the Marans laid anything in January. Now we are up from one or two eggs a day to four. This is a welcome increase. That's Mako Ameracauna in the goat cottage. She'll leave us a green egg, and later this afternoon, she will follow me into the garden, sit in my lap, ask for a treat. Only Mako and Little Debbie can fly over the fence. They are the wider open spaces free-rangers!

My sweet peas are lush and full {only leaves and stems, for now}, interspersed with the snapdragons that are in full spring bloom. I cannot wait to have sweet pea blossoms throughout the house. The orange trees and lemon are as white as they are green, with fragrant flowers, and fruit, too. The apple trees are blooming, the fig tree is waking up, fresh leaf buds are dotting its bare limbs.

You would think all this great weather would mean more fun in our Viking tent, but, alas, with the warmth came the mosquitos. Horrible bloodsucking wanton ladies of the dusk! They have been the bane of our festivities all our years here. Time for another mission to find out all the puddles and wet places... ironic plague for drought times. Do you want to know something special? You do? As long as we have lived here, we have imagined that our porch should be a covered, and screened porch, like Grandma Nancy's, in Wisconsin. More shade, no bugs, cats in, rain out, more open doors and windows, make space... it's been a favorite daydream and topic of wishful thinking. And now we are days away from commencing this big project... roofing the porch, building low walls, making screens, adding doors, and creating a space to escape hot summers, and rain {should it ever return,} an extension of the home so we can spread out our projects, and activities... we like to make things and we like to share and exchange ideas and events with friends. I am very excited about the prospect of all of this, and for the first time, I can actually muster some interest in the imminence of another hot summer. If we can add some cots {catres} then I will happily relive childhood Sonora summers, complete with chickens raising the sun.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Playing With Paints and Plates

Maria and I ran away from home, on an explore, in search of diversions, and play. Actually, it wasn't quite that adventurous... I knew exactly where we were headed. As much as I love painting pottery, as many times as she's asked to go, we don't do this fun activity very often. After nearly twenty years of dabbling in this activity, starting with William, then Alex, and Max, and Maria, two or three times, we have a fair collection of plates and bowls, a knick-knack or two. I keep meaning to take photographs of all the pieces we've painted, because I know they will not last forever, and I want to have a keepsake of the keepsakes. If my apple bowl breaks, I will gasp and wince, a bit, but I will not regret that we use these pieces everyday... especially if I have a picture to remember them by.

Have you been to one of these places, where you get an unglazed piece to paint? Once you've painted it, they glaze and fire it for you, and after a few days you return to pick up a glossy dish, or piggy bank, or vase, or unicorn, to bring home and treasure forever, and ever. My favorite part is the painting. I like slowing down, and losing track of everything but colors and brushstrokes. It'd be prohibitively pricey to rush through, amassing more and more pieces to finish... when the children were younger they would hurry through the painting, tempted to get another dinosaur, another cereal bowl. But I would try to persuade them to slow down, to make the most of their clay canvases. Some people have been caught by surprise when they see a completely different theme or scene painted on the backside of our pottery... there because I implored the children to double-up on their artistic expressions, making each piece a two-for-one.

Maria painted a flower. We were both happily reminded of Hawaii. It will be fun to compare these pictures with the finished results. The chalky and pale paints brighten and change when they are glazed and fired. On the back of Maria's plate, a heart, her name, and the year. We have plates with the year 1997 painted on them. It's such a remarkable sensation to think that far back, to marvel at so many years gone by, and yet to feel the moments as though they were only yesterday. Maybe it is "materialistic," but I am glad to have these things that recall times that we have shared and enjoyed. For my own plate, I decided to revisit my ratty-rat theme, and painted the same one I have embroidered on a dish towel. I cannot explain this rat-mouse attraction. I very much preferred painting the smaller rat-mouse on clay, than the Hobbit-like mouse I tried to depict on canvas. The chicken, and the needle pulling thread were done in more of a rush. Maria was finished, and hungry, my chance to lose track of time was done. Now for the wait, and wondering whether what we wanted to appear will translate in the end.