Friday, February 05, 2016

Moments in The Week
















Those crow masks are just a few drilled holes away from being done, and ready to ship to Utah! They've been a central theme of our lives lately. Alex has done a remarkable job with those, and everyone is eager to see them (pictures, at least) when they are worn in the ballet. It's also gratifying and compelling for us to see Alex working at what he loves to do... bringing together his interests in art, design, engineering, and manufacturing. His classes are dialed into those interests, so I think it will be a good semester for him.

Max is settling into his new semester, too. He likes the subjects, and the teachers. He's already showing me progress on the iron forged drawer pull he's making. Since he's been a first level metals student, his teacher gives him a lot of liberty and responsibility in the shop. Max was teaching himself how to operate the plasma cutter. All of his classes are compelling in some way, or another, and it seems relaxed, which is a nice way to finish his final year of high school. He still has time for friends and games, for dropping by the hobby store.

William has been almost as busy as ever with his own art and designs, except we pulled him away to work on the fence. It's no fun replacing things that were already in place, but it's got to be done, and thankfully, we have help (though not from the neighbor, who refuses to recognize the joint responsibilities of good fences and good neighbors!) The old panels are removed, the broken posts dug out, new posts are set. By Saturday the concrete should be dry, so they can reinstall the panels. We may need to replace some of the fence boards. We'll see. After that, William can count yet another great project he's completed at the Bird House. I think he enjoys the skills he acquires... building a barn, a chicken run, learning to run Frankenrouter.

Maria has decided to retire from Ballet Folklorico. She struggled, a bit, with the decision... mostly concerned about other people's views and feelings. For herself, she knew that she had done as much with it as she cared to do. She loves, loves, loves the dancing, but was weary with make-up-hair-costumes and performances. It's been wonderful seeing her immerse herself so whole heartedly, really exploring the skills, and having a good time with it. I admire how dedicated she remained, and how carefully she evaluated her decision to move on. {She'd love to try Polynesian dance!} Her first free Saturday? She spent all of it with her dad at his office, where she's added HTML/CSS programming to her JAVA skills! Thanks to Khan Academy, Maria is head-over-code in love with these new programming classes. While sitting side by side with her daddy, she sent me a text message, "I need a little break from coding, so I added a Khan math class," which she dove into with equal enthusiasm. Seeing Geoff and Maria, heads together, and talking tech stuff... it's beyond adorable!

Yes, Geoff is working Saturdays. And Sundays. And week nights, late. It's that time of year. We know the drill, and it should be over pretty soon. We are looking forward to his return. It makes me thankful for texting, cell phones, even FB... because even in small ways, we can connect. I think 90% of our communication has come to emoticons! {Insert a smiley face, here.}

As for me... yarn. Yarn. Yarn. Maria showed me the sticks she collected at school, storm souvenirs, and I took one and gave it the Age of Aquarius treatment! {Insert peace sign and love beads, here.} As Maria and I left the house the other day, each wearing crocheted shawls and crocheted hats, something occurred to me, and I shuddered: We looked like a pair from a seventies crochet magazine cover! OHMYGLOB. I don't now how to stop. But, if I don't improve my skills, and invest in nice quality supplies, we are doomed! Just please promise you'll have an intervention for me, before I start attempting to crochet bathing suits, or Weasley sweaters!



Yellow Blossom :: Thirty Five

On the trail.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Fence Crew :: Thirty Three

The crew has organized, supplies are purchased, and work has begun. Out with the old fence section, then on to the new. William remarked that it was a fitting job for GroundHog Day; digging holes!

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

A Mixed Bouquet :: Thirty Two

Rosemary, lemon geranium, and eucalyptus, with a red bow. A gift from our garden.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Things Went Bump In The Night :: Thirty One

About our weather last night... it was pretty bad.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Dear GroundHog What Do You See

I realize this is short notice... are you prepared for one of the _hole-iest_ days of the year?? Tomorrow is GroundHog Day! We've adopted it as our mid-winter festivity of randomness and nonsense. Normally, our winters are an event that barely registers, so the idea of contemplating the arrival of spring hardly occurs to us. But in recent years we have come to love this day, to mark it with whatever GroundHogish activities we can muster. We look for wintriness, and revel in nature. We take note of chicken shadows, putter around the garden. When it comes to GroundHog Days there are no points deducted for repetitions! {Okay that was an actual GroundHog pun, in case you didn't see it.} After last night's extreme wind, rain, hail, and extraordinary winter-like weather, we are more curious than ever before: Will there be six more weeks of winter? Of El Niño? Of puddles, chills, sandbags, and downed fences? Tomorrow will tell! When the whistle-pig, weather prognosticating Marmota monax, aka Punxsutawney Phil, leaves his hole, for the hole-y moment of truth, then all will be revealed!

Which is why I am so glad that Marilyn Scott Waters has so graciously and generously created party favors for our GroundHog Day crafting pleasure; we want to be prepared.


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Seeing Love and Feeling Comforted By A Very Old Cat



We are looking forward to celebrating Chango's eleventy-first birthday, April first. He was born sometime in early spring, in the year 2000. He had a brother, Bongo. Now he has us, and Mister Foo, and his choice of the comfiest places for napping. In the last six months he has become an old man. A dear, and darling, talkative, sometimes cantankerous sounding old man.

I've said all of this already. I am sure. It's even likely I have addressed the point that I have said all of this already, before. But for emphasis, because he is so endearing and adored, I will write it all down, again. How else to preserve these memories, to store up the happy and warm feelings he fosters in our hearts? I want to remember, viscerally, if possible, how keenly we enjoy who Chango is, how he behaves, our dotage and affection for this feline soul, this sleek being.

He sleeps all day, unless he is asking to go out the back door, so he can walk to the front door. He waits at the front door to be let in. He asks for a bowl of fresh food. He asks to be picked up and set at the slowly running tap of the bathroom sink. He asks to be followed, so that he can show us what he needs, what he wishes, where he's thinking of going. At night he is restless, waiting for everyone to get to their beds, for the lights to turn out, for the quiet time. He takes his spot on the second pillow above my head. I call him my crown. He rests a paw on my head, sweeps his tail across my shoulder. When I stir, he asks, "Meow?" Have I already said? I think he could learn to speak English, if he could live another decade. He's quite close, and we imagine we can make out some of his more emphatic statements.

{Grandmother, I'd bring Chango to you, if I could. Let's not consider any of the impractical details of this notion. It's just that I am certain that you and he would very much enjoy each others gentle company. And you remember him, homely little fellow, when we all lived together, and the boys wondered why anyone would even want a cat. All we had then was Nena... pretty kitty, but such a moody thing. We brought Chango and Bongo home, and the boys fell fast in love with the kitties. Do you remember the kitties up in the tree, and William, Alex, and Max standing below them, with pillows held high, in case the kitties fell, and calling them, imploring them to 'please come down?' We lived by the beach, then. And all I can remember are happy times, there. Nena napping on your porch fence, and your potted garden out there, too. Then our time together in our Rancho home; I think of it often. I miss the simplest pleasures of our days together. It may sound a bit odd, but when I see Chango resting, curled up in his nap, I think of you and wish we were with you... just doing whatever feels comfortable, being content to sleep, or chat, or do nothing at all. When I miss you, I turn to everything good in my day, in my life, and I think how happy I am for every day I have been in your company... that something essential about you has made me want to be a good person. Then I long, even more, to be by your side again, to bring little comforts and amusements to you. To brush your hair, and rub your shoulders, to bring you tea, tissues, funny things to laugh about, to hold your hand. I love you, Grandmother.}

Haircut :: Thirty

A haircut before he goes to work. Max has begun his second semester of senior year, with new classes, and a part time job at the hobby shop. He's blacksmithing and welding, in creative writing, film and society, and also taking economics and government. "An easy load," this semester. He finished AP English, chemistry, college applications, and Calculus III with linear algebra. He loves working at the hobby and game store, after school and weekends. We were over there last night, seeing what he's accomplished as he helps them move into a new store.

As for today... we're enjoying a relaxed, slow breakfast, while it rains. We've seen cat videos, talked about Chango's eleventy-first birthday, and imagined what careers Chango and Foo would have, if they went out for jobs. Alex has masks to finish. Geoff will go back to the office, again. William and I may see what we can do to help Maria look like George Washington for a class history presentation! Maria has been applying herself to Khan JAVA script, and a new math class. Max says he'd like to check in at the hobby store. Maybe we should lay down some plans for Groundhog Day, too. Oh, and someone should make sure the goats are surviving the storm. Poor goats!

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Before :: Twenty Nine

Ambitiously, optimistically: Before. **

**Original posting of this image was accidentally deleted, along with sweet comments from Jennifer and Tracy; what a bummer!
Something worked! Comments restored!

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Grubbly Farms Make Hens Happy

It's my policy to be open and forthright about products I review and endorse; so it goes like this... Patrick, from Grubbly Farms wrote me an email offering to send ChickenBlog a bag of black soldier fly larvae for our chickens in exchange for mention on our blog. I read about them, I read about the flies, and I found that Grubbly Farms not only have a good sounding product, but a compelling story, as well; so I decided to let our chickens give the Grubblies a try. Would your chickens like to give Grubblies a try? We might have some to share... leave a comment.

Our poor hens have been cooped up quite a bit, lately, and I've been concerned about them missing out on the wider range of foods they can normally get at when they free range. Chickens are quite omnivorous... it's what makes home-farmed eggs healthier and tastier than most found in markets. I won't use these larvae as a meal... more as a treat, or a bribe. And I am happy to say, the Grubblies were such a big hit, I can count on them to be a great incentive for bringing my girls home to roost when we want them in before dark.

They come neatly packaged in a resealable bag.

Not gross! I just wanted to assure you that there was nothing stinky, slimy, or off-putting about the dried larvae.

I had Liberty, Thompson, Mako, and Koa eating out of my hand in no time. All the hens were Grubbly fans once they saw that their sisters were into them.

Okay... full disclosure: I took 117 pictures, just so I could try to capture both the product and the enthusiastic hens. I can tell you, the product is great, the hens love it, but photographing chickens doing a product endorsement? Not as easy as I'd hoped! Hopefully, you get the idea!

Grubbly Farms would like you to give their chicken treats a try, and as an incentive, they are offering a 15% discount on their products. Visit their shop, for treats, or compost, or both! And use this coupon code when you checkout: GrubblyChickenblog

Here are Patrick and Sean, the enterprising young men who started Grubbly Farms in the laundry room of their downtown Atlanta apartment building. Larvae in a laundry room? This is a great startup story! I'm glad they are getting good press, like this interview with Popular Science, because not only do our chickens appreciate the healthy snacks Grubbly Farms sent them, but we really appreciate the idea of taking "waste," like the tons of food scraps that normally get dumped into landfills, and making something productive and sustainable from it. High protein food for fish and poultry, and rich compost for gardens, and produced in the United States! Jobs, environmental mindfulness, innovation, sustainability... this is inspiring stuff! If we are to have a healthy future, then this is the kind of innovation we need! Thank you, Patrick and Sean. Thank you, Grubbly Farms!