Saturday, July 21, 2007

This Chica is Crowing!

In May I decided to make a big to do about Chickenblog's 5 year anniversary, and then a few days later Calamity Kim left a really sweet gift promise... "I would love to make you a Chicken inspired apron to celebrate your Blogaversary."

"Wow," I thought, "What a generous gesture, and from someone I've only recently met through blogging." A few visits to "Calamity Kim's Craft Cottage" is all it takes to make you realize you are in the midst of crafty goodness. You would think she is in possession of a magic wand, which she whips out to produce fanciful aprons, party pennants, doll quilts and countless collages. And it isn't just her own talents she's sharing; at her blog she is always singing the praises of other bloggers, quilters, creative people. She generously shares the love. Can you imagine how lucky I felt that she decided to share with me? She built the suspense with hints and reminders that something good was coming, and when the time came I sat on my mailbox like a happy, expectant hen.

Now I am clucking and crowing, because her amazing gift has arrived.
(Kim, should I show everything?

You know it's going to make our friends envious... people will drool on their keyboards...)

The anticipation was so keen and pure, it felt like Christmas... childhood Christmas, when someone else did all the preparation and you have no idea what's coming next! The mailing box had cute stickers and everything was wrapped, so that the fun and gratitude started before we even had a peek at what waited inside. My heart raced. Maria was in awe.

An apron, that's what she promised. I was waiting for one whimsical and fun, chicken themed apron. We opened gift after gift, after gift, and there were gifts inside the gifts. When set end-to-end the contents of Kim's care package reach the moon.

She made an apron for Maria!
Oh... it's so thoughtful and sweet.

Look at the pocket!
Maria loves pockets.
She laughs about the egg pocket.

One apron is a lot of work, but what about two-in-one?
Kim does not skimp on details and quality.
She thinks of ways to make something good even gooder.

Joy! Reversible apron joy!

Joy and chenille and party pennants!
We are having a party just for the pennant.

How did she know that I adored her pennants, with their cupcakes, rick rack, pie (we love pie!) cozy chenille and tea cups?
How can this woman be so generous and fun? I feel dizzy.

Here it is: My very own Chicken Palooza Wow Wow Wooza Wonder Woman Apron.

We feel like queens.
Like serving up a batch of cookies.
Like the luckiest chicks in town.

Kim. Kim, you have no idea what joy you sent to our home.
Calamity Catalyst Kim has sparked a change around here, and inspired domestic doings. I want to make a scrumptious dinner, wearing my apron, of course and I want to clear the cob webs and dust the china and plan a party for neighbors, friends, the checkout girl at Trader Joe's and our barber. Then I want to promote world peace, clean my shelves, wrap presents, mail greeting cards and clean my desk. She gave me the inspiration to make my world as beautiful as the things she sent me.

My apron has chicken fabric here and chicken fabric there. Here a chick, there a chick...


a chick, chick!

Maria wore the silk rose on her head and she tried to put those teeny tiny glass slippers on her feet. She put the fuzzy chick in the little basket and I tied the tulle bow in her hair... we are going to spend days and days reveling in this bounty of feminine fare.

Hey diddle-diddle the cat and his fiddle
are playing a happy tune.
With buttons and bows, as cute as a rose,
a package came after noon.
From way out east, destination west,
Calamity whipped-up a surprise.
She's no shrinking violet, our generous Kim.
She's crafty, clever and wise.
Confections, delights, wondrous sights,
aprons, pennants and lace.
She filled up a box. She filled up our hearts.
She filled our house with grace.
Fried-egg pockets, butterflies,
cupcakes, chicks, and trim,
made to amuse and delight,
the stitches of Calamity Kim.
My little girl laughed to see such a sight
And I am over the moon!

Thank you. Thank you ever so much.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Points North

This is my 900th post, and I thought it could be a look back post. It could be a remembrance of our Rancho days, when we made our home in the hills and herded chickens. I could have looked back at Bill and Alison's wedding or posted more pictures from James and Deanne's wedding, because those are beautiful and happy memories. Any of those would make wonderful post topics on this 900 occasion...

I have berries and dunes on the brain. Maybe because there's been talk of making a birthday caravan to Oregon, to celebrate Grandmother's 85th birthday. Doesn't that sound like a long drive fun? I know I've been trying to face the music at home and commit to getting my life in order, but gee whiz family is important and time together is precious and I miss my mommy and berries... don't forget the berries, and salmon bakes, and the dunes...

and the broad, open beaches just waiting to be explored.

We could be at the farmer's market.

Then we could go back to the beach and inhale the fresh air, talk about beads, art, photography, forests and harbors.

These pictures are from the trip we made in September, 2004, when I was very pregnant with Maria, the Papaya. I was just getting big Chickenblog technical improvements at the time, like Holly's new banner and Geoff made it easier to post pictures... wow, I wasn't able to share many pictures in the old days. We've come along way in 900 posts.

Alex thinks it would be great to go back to Oregon on the train, like we did on this trip.

I'm glad the boys have such fond memories of this time. I'm glad Chickenblog was there to record some of the memories.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Summer is Flowing

Summer is flowing and going. I don't necessarily want summer to last forever, but I sure do love our freedom to come and go and make our own plans. I notice a lot of bloggers go on a post hiatus in summer, so they can more fully immerse themselves in the pleasures of long days, and warm weather chores. Today Firefly, at "I Live On A Farm," took time out to reflect on her new found appreciation for summer. Compared with So Cal, Western New York has a short growing season and so I can imagine it is savored and relished, far more reverently.

The Pay It Forward sign-up is filled, and our talented and generous participants are: Janece of "No Ordinary Moment." From "Tea Time and Roses," Beverly. And also, Tracy of "Pink Purl..." I hope she agrees to bend the rules and not worry about starting another 3 PIF's. She could wind up in a neverending crafty cycle of giveaways! If you missed the sign-up here, then rush over to Janece's or Beverly's and sign-up quick. Or, if you are just looking for a good place to share your talents and generosity, then please read Tracy's important post about helping a friend in need.

I have a lot of tasks, projects, chores and activities that I need to immerse myself in, like scheduling some driving classes for William, pay bills, wash my panties, help Alex get out some thank you cards, make crafty cleverness x 3... ya, that's the tip of a really huge "to do" list iceberg. Yes, a ginormous iceberg!

What I am trying to say, is that I need to get off my butt and finish other business, get smart, make hay while the sun shines, shake a leg, look busy. No more lazing about, daydreaming, cookie lusting, slacking.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

1, 2, 3... Ready, Set, Pay It Forward!

Tracy got me all excited about playing a sharing game... and now it's time for me to work on my end of the bargain. She's sending me something she's made. Have you seen the pretty things she makes? Oh, my! Purses, zip bags, totes, necklaces, ribboned brooches with antique buttons... all so beautiful and feminine. I could close my eyes and make-believe I am just a bit Jane Austen! While I am anxiously awaiting my surprise, I will begin making three arty, crafty, clever, handmade somethings of my own to give to 3 interested PIF players. You have to leave a comment or email me and say "I want to Pay It Forward." Be one of the first three and I will send you a surprise handmade treat. Be one of the first three and you are agreeing to make three somethings to pass on to another lucky three.

What is a something? It's beads, knitting, crocheting, something stitched or assembled or glued or configured. It's a work of art, drawn painted, molded, shaped, trimmed, produced, designed, strung together, twisted, hammered... baked? Make it. Share it. Be daring, I am. I only glanced before I leaped and now I am thumping my head to think of 3 unique, thoughtful, giftable things that someone might be happy to find in their mailbox. I may cheat and promote some of my mom's amazing jewelry. I'd like to make another pin cushion, maybe an apron or maybe another doll quilt or some pennants. I made some fabulous salsa the other day, but I don't suppose that would ship very well.

I paid a visit to my grandmother yesterday... we saw aunt Becky and uncle Dan and their dog, Molly. We even spent five fun minutes with my very busy cousin, Julie. Rather spontaneous, wouldn't you agree? Our school schedule and Grandmother's travels prevented us from getting together and we hadn't seen her since last December... oh, that's too long between visits. I do wish she were still living with us, like when we were all together at El Rancho.

Grandmother told us about her time in Colorado, about my cousins and their children, about mountain storms and the beautiful trees. Honestly, my grandmother looks younger... I think Henry and Eva took good care of her. We all enjoy having her in our care, because she is so dear to us.

Max didn't want to leave his aunt Becky's house. He thought we should only come home to pick up a few necessities, like the cats and his piano, then we should return to Pasadena and live with Grandmother and his great aunt and uncle. We could live in a tent, or two.

When Grandmother and Grandpa lived with us we did have good fun... there was lots of laughter and shared joy. We didn't have to be doing anything particularly exciting. It's just a comfort and pleasure to have loving people around to share the evening with, to sit with or cook with... I miss walks in the garden, watering geraniums, watching chickens run around, hearing Grandmother's stories, and Grandpa's laughter.

So, it's good to make time to make new memories. Our trip was a quick one, but we had a very nice visit.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Making Plans and Starting Over

I lost my brilliant post... oh, woe is me... I was so eloquent...
1. I thank my cyber sisters, new, and tried and true. You encourage me.
2. I pledged to step forth from the Tragic Abyss of Piss and Moan
3. I mentioned some of the minor improvements I have made domestically
4. I reviewed a book*
5. I promised a Pay It Forward Post
Look for my PIF Post tomorrow and then be one of the first three people to leave a comment and I will send you a handmade gift, if you promise to Pay It Forward! The inspiration for this 'make it and share it' game came from Tracy of "Pink Purl." And no, this is not more escape from domestic reality and responsibilities. No way! This is therapy. Healing, creative, nurturing therapy. I know it's working too, 'cause I feel all tingly inside.

*The book review was good. I used big words and shared profound insight. This is the second chance, running out of time, short on patience review:

Go Buy This Book. It's tasty and beautiful, insightful and good.

The illustrations tell a story...

The words share, but do not preach. A good thing.

Maria and I love this book.
We want to eat a homemade cookie.

We are looking in our recipe drawer.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Deep Thoughts and Other Randomness

He might be even less interested in driving than I was at his age, but he's learning anyway. Don't confuse lack of interest with lack of care. He studied diligently and with appropriate regard, and he earned his learning permit. Now he studies my driving, asks about braking distances and parking methods. During our road trip he read the driver's handbook aloud and so we all got lessons and refreshers on the rules of the road. He may be sporting a sly grin in this picture, but I am certain William will prove to be a good and responsible driver. Yesterday the whole family spent the evening in an empty lot, while William got his first behind the wheel experience. Do you know what passes quickly? The time between first toddler steps and the day your baby is in a mini van, driving parking lot laps.

We have one child learning how to operate heavy machinery and another relishing the joy of art. Maria, like her brothers, draws every day. I know this pattern well... the piles of papers, the dull pencils, the ink stained fingers. She sings while she draws, like Alex did when he was 2. She fills her pages, describing every figure and feature, like William did. She is methodical like Max. I love her faces, with eyes and noses. I love that she gives people shoes and broad smiles. And I love this pudgy nosed kitty that she made just the other day: "Kitty. Big-big eyes, Mommy. See?"

I must have been feeling just a touch of quilt pride to set up this shot. Me. Posing with the doll quilt before I sent it away for keeps. If the recipient ever posts about it, then my flood gates will open and I'll pour forth all the little details that have been spinning in my head. I think handmade crafts are always full of more than what can be seen, and since this particular project has had me writhing with self-doubt, I am eager to point out its merits. And in the midst of my minor pity party, I saw something unexpected...

Ah. Shouldn't I drop my worries, and just revel in the joy of this little one, and her 3 loving brothers? Uh-huh... I think so. I'm so glad she peeked her little face in this picture. She's such a precious source of happiness and amusement. She shows a lot of interest in my sewing. She watches me and holds fabric scraps together. She calls it making fabric... (In the interest of historic accuracy, I feel compelled to mention that she can't pronounce f-a-b-r-i-c. It comes out fagg0t. I always repeat the correct pronunciation and she always smiles and says with more emphasis, "Ya, fagg0t." She also has unique pronunciations for shirt, frog and fork. William and I hide our laughter. Alex is earnestly working on her elocution.) She was quite certain that the Mariposa quilt was going to her collection, and she would inquire about its progress, while I was quilting it. She asked, "It's pokey?" She's careful about the pins and needles. When it was finished she clapped her hands, then opened her arms to embrace the quilt and wrap her bear in it.

This is not our house, but I could live here.

I could live lots of places, which I think may be my coping method... coping with renting and feeling disconnected. This is not famine, war or global warming. I like to emphasize my gratitude and the good things going on, but it feels disingenuous to leave out the truth about how low I have been feeling. Despite evidence to the contrary, I am not fairing very well as a tenant. Lately it has left me rather despondent and pitiful. Oh, let's not mince words: I hate renting. I hate the columns that grace the foyer. I hate the wall paper in the bathrooms, and green faux marble face of the gaping mouth fireplace in our bedroom. I hate the algae green rag painted wall in the family room, and the world's shiniest, most slippery tiled floors in the kitchen, foyer and dining area. I hate that our landlord comes unannounced with excuses for going in the garage and working the yard. I hate that he over-waters his tropical plants and makes us pay for it. I hate that there's no room for me to garden.

Ehh... it all sounds so minor and whiney when I see the feelings and sentiments written down, but trust me it's defeating. After 4 years of renting 2 places, after 23 other moves and after making plans and setting goals and hoping... well, I feel defeated and frustrated and disconnected, and like I could just go wherever, which recently, I have begun to realize is what I do. Rather than unpack and settle in, I plan road trips. Rather than organize the garage, I join quilt swaps and make yo-yos. Rather than starting another filing system, I volunteered at the school. I keep finding excuses to turn away from this house and the work it needs to be a proud home.

We have fun. We see new places and discover wonderful corners to admire and pass time in.

Other places are so much nicer than home. Other blogs, and bookstores, campgrounds, quilt shops, playgrounds, museums... little escapes from reality. I don't know how much longer we'll live at Garage Mahal. I don't know where we'll go next. I do know that I need to find the resolve or will, or gumption or something to accept these walls and this life, the good and the frustrating, and to be a better person, mom, homemaker.

I could live here, in this wonderful loft bookstore, with the cozy, inviting reading corner. I love its rough wood floors and the high ceilings, the natural light that seeps in to the room and makes soft shadows amongst the shelves and tables. It is a place that projects care and warmth, effort and regard... I could live here.