Saturday, April 19, 2003

For Geoff, because I love him.

We went on an evening walk and discovered some new trails and sights. The trail we followed starts parallel with a driving range. On our right we saw egrets, ducks, marsh and hills, we heard many birds, crickets and frogs. To our left were the double fences of the golf center. About half way through the walk I saw a golf ball alongside the path, and for the rest of the walk we enjoyed something of a hunt, finding golf balls under sage and fennel, and nestled like Easter eggs among the purple lupines. Max found several, but didn't care to keep any. Alex collected about twenty, and William had at least a dozen golf balls stuffed in his pockets. As we turned around to get back to our car, the sun was setting. The frogs sang louder and the birds began to rush home to their trees and nests. Crossing a bridge over a swift little creek we paused to watch the bats darting and flitting. The bats are amazing. They slip right by the top of your head and you can feel the air move as their wings beat, but they never actually touch. One moment they are visible and quite real, but they disappear in to the settling darkness, and all that remains is the subtlety of knowing we are part of something greater than ourselves.

I think it would be wonderful if everyone could enjoy an evening walk, discover little treasures, notice the color of the mud and the foot prints of those who came through before. There is a great deal of grief and anguish in the world and there are problems that seem to have no possible solution. There are bigger wishes I could make, and certainly I have higher hopes, but I think it would be very good if everyone stepped outside and listened to the water flowing, waves crashing, wind blowing through trees or birds calling, if everyone could jump over puddles, smell herbs crushed between their fingers, taste honeysuckle, watch for frogs, feel no alarm or pain, make no judgments. On our walk we sometimes had to slow down for our little one to keep up, and sometimes we ran, because running is fun. And we met a woman, small and quite old; she pushed her own wheel chair and made her own pace. We were sharing the path, the air and the calm. Without even touching, I think we can stroll passed one another and feel the air move, and perhaps this might make a difference, ease some of the suffering. It would be wonderful if everyone of us could enjoy such simple pleasures.

Friday, April 18, 2003

Here is our Lovely Luna

Luna was strolling across the lawn in search of delicacies. She has been well and laying beautiful brown eggs with pale speckles on the wide end. She is a sweet chica.

My Mom is riding home this morning. We've learned that Greyhound can return her to her home in Oregon in under 30 hours. By tomorrow we'll really know whether it's such a good deal. Speaking from plenty of experience, bus riding can be a tricky business. I will be glad to hear from her when she calls from her cozy home in the woods, and if the ride was decent enough, maybe the boys and I will take a ride this Summer and pick berries, walk on the beach...

At least the crisis here has mellowed. Grandpa has been home for some time...I have lost track of days, which is unusual for me. Seeing him, listening to him, one would not know what he's been through and what his body is up against. He is incredibly lucky.

I feel we have all been hovering, existing in a sort of holding pattern, waiting to see which direction the wind was going to blow from. We all try to help, to do more than before, but the fact is the burden of caring and tending mostly falls on Grandmother's shoulders. There are more medicines, tests, symptoms, restrictions and issues for her to monitor, tend to, serve and mend. She is a driver, cook, nurse, maid and manager. Hopefully we will find a routine and settle in to it, and then find more ways to give her a break; time off to take care of her own needs and spirit.

Geoff found an outlet for Grandmother that I think she is enjoying very much. He revived a computer, and set up an email account for her. Now when she has a few minutes of quiet time she can write to her brother in Guadalajara, and her daughters and son, and she can begin to explore the internet, and read letters and cards from family and friends. Yesterday we sat together trying to get online and we shared the agony, misery and mystery of "the system is down." It is somehow satisfying to be tormented by trivialities.

Mom did a lot while she was here, like driving, running errands, helping with household chores and spending many long days in the hospital to be Grandpa's advocate and a companion to him. She also found the absolute most perfect and beautiful Mother of the Groom dress, which is wonderful. I think Bill and Alison's coming soon wedding has definitely been our light and delight. Seeing everyone, and celebrating together will be life affirming and joyous. Mom's stay here was very helpful, but I look forward to our May visit far more.

And when Grandpa came home, I think Max was his most eager attendant. Max was very worried about his great grandpa. He wanted to bring him cookies and milk, share his toys with him, bandage his "badly hurt places," and he told him "I'm glad you're home Grandpa."

I love this photograph of Rosie. It looks awesome full screen, and I sent it to Geoff for use as a vigilant screensaver and computer de-bugger. She has a keen look in her eye, and though she may peck your toes, she is really very mild and gentle.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Baker Science

As a science lesson the boys read about the properties and purposes of yeast. The article they read focused on bread, and I found a clover leaf roll recipe for them to follow, so they could apply what they were learning. We got cookin' this morning. William and Alex gathered the ingredients and took turns measuring and mixing. They did well, but I managed to repeat a recurring error: I followed the recipe to the letter, and the results were disappointing. I have never successfully followed a recipe exactly as written without the meal being dry, too salty, flat, over cooked, under cooked, tasteless...only when I improvise or alter do I find satisfactory results.

"Knead the dough for only 5 minutes," but this was too little time and we should have kneaded more. "Let the dough rise 1 hour, then again in the pan for 45 minutes," but once again I think we could have given the dough more time to rise. We missed the classic baking bread aroma, and the dough was somewhat dense. Nothing like the ones Geoff baked at Thanksgiving from Grandpa Corm's recipe; those clover leaf rolls are angel light and smell heavenly. Ours were mediocre. However, the boys inhaled them anyway. Even bad homemade bread is better than store bought. But now I am craving the good rolls and so tomorrow we will have to try again. Incidentally, Geoff does not cook, except for this bread recipe, but when I told him about our results he immediately guessed: "Are you sure you let the dough rise long enough?" I may be taking the wrong approach trying to teach this lesson. I should ask him to "please show us how to do it properly."


"Undo" is a feature I just discovered on the computer. "Undo" is powerful magic and I am already disappointed to realize that I cannot apply its effects to my daily life. I wrote a paragraph that was not going any where; it lacked interest and direction, so I deleted it. Then I thought "Drat, maybe I should have kept the general concept," and that is when I found the undo prompt and *ping* everything reverted to its former state.

I would like to undo...

the moment the dentist drilled through my sinus.
the school picture I took in 9th grade, and tenth.
enrolling for hula lessons.
skiing on ice, the second time.
attempting to cheat on a pop quiz in 1984
3:40 a.m. February 14, 2001...forgetting my purse as we began a 16 hour drive home from a very small town in Mexico...

Of course, if we can undo the little things that snag our thoughts or give us regret, then perhaps we miss out on evolvement, growth, sympathy, enlightenment and even humiliation. Chaos, missteps, even poor judgment can lead to marvelous insights and understanding. I suppose I should not waste my time wishing I could undo every regrettable event of my life (obviously there is no sound reason to excuse the dental incident...argghh.) The great choices and brilliant ideas, the dumb moves, and shameful goof ups have all served to bring me here, to this place, with the people I know and love. I would not undo anything.

And speaking of "people I know and love," my boys, the artists and scientists, are always very busy. They are happy here at El Rancho. They have room to play and work. Room to make goof ups of their own, but mostly they are making wonderful discoveries, learning and inventing.

Last Spring, when Max was 3 he drew and colored one of the baby chicas.
He wants to post his picture, to share.

Alex loves Legos, especially Bionicles. He is collecting Bionicles
and keeps them displayed on his desk and a shelf he chose.

These are some of the Bionicle Masks that Alex has collected.

William spent two days designing and building this large scale pirate model.
The head, arms and legs are solid, and the chest is hollow (to save on bricks.)
He included such all Lego details as teeth, a shoe lace, a hoop earring, hairy chest, and
silver coins in his pouch.

Captain Cutlass stands 17.5" tall.

Actually Nena hasn't made or collected much at all, she isn't even a son of mine.
She is just a cat in love with her cat nip laced scratch box. She stayed on it for 3 hours
and left it soaked with drool.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

27 Days

27 days left in the Bill and Alison wedding day countdown! By all accounts bride and groom are holding up admirably well. A few days before the big day, we will head north in the Jet Puff, and for our part there are only a few more details to attend to.

1. Be sure Geoff has dress shorts and a decent tie.
2. Buy dress shoes for the boys; this has to be at the last possible moment in hopes that they won't outgrow them on the drive to the wedding.
3. Find the "lift 'em, shape 'em, lose ten, move 5, strapless, wireless, tummy toning, all cotton bra" with matching panties.
4. Convince Max that weddings are fun.
5. Confirm with guests for shower for Alison
6. Shave (a rehearsal)
7. Haircuts
8. Convince other single friends contemplating matrimony to get married quick...the kids have suits and ties and I can't say how long these slacks and coats will fit them, or whether the boys would ever endure another shopping trip like that again!

This is a nesting hencake.

I get no credit for writing this, but the subject matter makes it worthy of a place here at Chicken Blog. It came in my email, and I think its author is Beth A. Medina.

"One more time: Why did the chicken cross the road?"

GEORGE W. BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road.
We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road or not. The
chicken is either with us or it is against us. There is no middle ground

JACQUES CHIRAC: The chicken has rights, mais oui? We care not whether
the chicken crosses the road since we will claim her eggs regardless of on
which side of the road she lays them, n'est pas? Should les americains succeed
in seizing them, we shall insist on coq au vin!

TONY BLAIR: It is clear to Her Majesty's government that the chicken
has disguised and hidden her eggs, which, under extraordinary circumstances
particularly on All Hallow's E'en, can certainly be used as weapons of
mass destruction

COLIN POWELL: Now at the left of the screen, you clearly see the satellite
image of the chicken crossing the road.

HANS BLIX: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not
yet been allowed access to the other side of the road.

MOHAMMED ELBARI (Iraq ambassador): The chicken did not cross the road.
This is a complete fabrication. We don't even have a chicken.

SADDAM HUSSEIN: This was an unprovoked act of rebellion and we were
quite justified in dropping 50 tons of nerve gas on it.

RALPH NADER: The chicken's habitat on the original side of the road had
been polluted by unchecked industrialist greed. The chicken did not
reach the unspoiled habitat on the other side of the road because it was
rushed by the wheels of a gas-guzzling SUV.

PAT BUCHANAN: To steal a job from a decent, hard-working American.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: I don't know why the chicken crossed the road, but I'll
bet it was getting a government grant to cross the road, and I'll bet
someone out there is already forming a support group to help chickens with
crossing-the-road syndrome. Can you believe this? How much more of this
can real Americans take? Chickens crossing the road paid for by their tax
dollars, and when I say tax dollars, I'm talking about your money, money
the government took from you to build roads for chickens to cross.

MARTHA STEWART: No one called to warn me which way that chicken was
going. I had a standing order at the farmer's market to sell my eggs when the
price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider

JERRY FALWELL: Because the chicken was gay! Isn't it obvious? Can't you
people see the plain truth in front of your face? The chicken was going
to the "other side." That's what they call it -- the other side. Yes, my
friends, that chicken is gay. And, if you eat that chicken, you will
become gay too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this
abomination that the liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless phrases like
"the other side."

DR. SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad?
Yes, The chicken crossed the road, But why it crossed, I've not been told!

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die. In the rain. Alone.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: I envision a world where all chickens will be
free to cross roads without having their motives called into question.

GRANDPA: In my day, we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road.
Someone told us that the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough for

BARBARA WALTERS: Isn't that interesting? In a few moments we will be
listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart-warming
story of how it experienced a serious case of molting and went on to
accomplish its life-long dream of crossing the road.

JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens crossing roads in peace.

ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

KARL MARX: It was an historical inevitability.

VOLTAIRE: I may not agree with what the chicken did, but I will defend
to the death its right to do it.

RONALD REAGAN: What chicken?

CAPTAIN KIRK: To boldly go where no chicken has gone before.

FOX MULDER: You saw it cross the road with your own eyes! How many more
chickens have to cross before you believe it?

SIGMUND FREUD: The fact that you are at all concerned that the chicken
crossed the road reveals your underlying sexual insecurity.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Order Up!

Hencakes, a specialty at El Rancho

Saturday afternoon, a cotton boll sky
at El Rancho

Sometimes we have as many as twenty eggs in the refrigerator, especially now that we cannot share them and Grandpa hasn't been home to eat them. Other times we have only two or three eggs accumulated. When we have six or eight eggs I feel a certain amount of comfort. More than five eggs means there are enough eggs to feed the boys, or fix a big recipe, and not be short.

Lately I have been watching egg production closely. Low production is one of the indicators of Exotic New Castle Disease, and since it is deadly, contagious and prevalent, we are definitely on the look out for symptoms and indicators. I have a sad suspicion that they are generally laying fewer eggs overall. Peak production is 3 eggs a day. Sometimes we only get 2. But since last week we have had some 1 egg days, and that has me nervous.

I wouldn't be disappointed if they stopped laying eggs all together. My affection for the Chicas goes way beyond eggs. Just listening to them is reason enough to feed, shelter and protect them. And when I can watch them spread their wings in the dust, chase their lunch on the fly, or follow Alex for a pill bug hunt, I am thoroughly delighted. No eggs is no problem, but the disease is, and the words of the USDA people weigh heavily upon my heart. If my Chicas really are going to be struck down in their prime, I will be very sad.