Friday, June 18, 2010

Sheer Lunacy

I am only here for a quick Hello.

No one is going to get the time and attention they deserve today. Everything is behind, over the top, too much, not enough, out of breath, and turned around.

My greatest accomplishment of late was promising Warren, and Susan, that I would procrastinate on getting them their drawing prizes... wasn't I a visionary? Forgive me friends.

Yes, we are having some of this, in overwhelming quantities, and the toll this lunacy is taking has me all out of orbit.

I bought the wrong temporary, sort of affordable, chicken coop. And after seeing the chicken cottage that Dallas pointed out to me, I am not sure I ever could have bought the "right" chicken coop.

Forget about my coop catastrophe, go see the beautiful Backyard Quilt Dallas finished. It is curvy and refreshing.

I am making light. I am looking for the funny side. I am letting go, and hanging on.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Reflections and Play

That was one, Ugly Delicious cake.

And the candle! Wholly smokes! the candle was outrageous. Ours was slightly less fancy than the one in the link, but it flared, it opened, it spun around, and it played "Happy Birthday." It played, and played, and played.

Geoff dismantled it. Alex examined it. Maria mourned it. And still it played, and played, and played. Hilarious. Just the finishing touch I needed to make the cake complete.

Speaking of playing… some times I like to play in the Blogosphere, then come back here and report what I've seen. So this is one of those random posts, a webby post, a catch up post.

Alex had Joe out in the garden the other day, so he could create an image for his end of year Japanese Two project. He made a DVD called "The Totoro Project." It's to demonstrate his speaking skills in Japanese. He wrote the script and created original art and images inspired by "My Neighbor Totoro." He was also fortunate to find a really charming photograph on Bitter Betty's Blog, and she let him use it in his documentary.

Alex plays a scientist searching for the elusive and stealthy Totoro. It's going to be a charming piece. I give him an A+. Moms can do that.

Most of the film work Alex took care of with a tripod, and for some outdoor scenes I held the camera. Sometimes he was reading and memorizing his lines, so I had a moment or two to play with the camera.

There's that word again: Play.
I love you Play.

Too bad my cake decorating career tanked. But maybe I can be a fabric designer like my darling friend Monica, The Happy Zombie. I call her "darling," because she is. And she is funny, and talented. And I call her "friend" because we are kindred spirits living at the opposite ends of the same Interstate, and some day we will meet, and it will be wonderful. Also, I pestered her so many times on her blog she finally had to surrender and tell me I am funny and agree to be my friend. *grin*

I think her quilts are great, and her fabric is fabulously festive… I crave holiday whimsy. And pretty soon my craving is going to be satisfied, because my number was randomly generated, pulled from a hat, and conjured by red and turquoise gnomes… and I am one of the lucky winners of a Happy Holiday Fat Quarterlette! What is a "Fat Quarterlette?" If it's any snip or bit of that fun fabric she created, then I am a Happy Holiday Chica.

Thank you Monica. I will be pestering you later this summer when I am completely intimidated and unsure of what to make with your fabulous fabric. Be ready!

Two long haired boys in the yard last night. One of them with whiskers.

Max is so very, very close to the end of his school year. And he has plans. And unplans. He craves home, books, swimming, camp-outs in the garden. He wants to do plenty, and plenty of nothing.

Max's beans and corn are sprouting. Maria's radishes are popping up everywhere!

And from the good folks at Mucky Boots Farm I have been learning new things about gardens, and harvesting, and simply enjoying the beauty of whatever is blooming.

And like our little farm, Mucky Boots Farm has new chicks blooming, lots of cute little Opringtons. But they are growing fast! Go see them before they are laying and broody, like poor Betty.

Our chicas are growing too. Did you recognize Puff?

And look at Temple! Oh, my gosh. They are really absurd looking right now. I think these Polish might be some turkey-vulture chicken hybrid. Freaky. I have got to get them new accommodations, very soon. I had a reminder, from Dancing With Frogs about how much bigger our chicas will be, and it all happens quite suddenly. Or at least it seems sudden. I took one look at her Silkies and fell in love with that funny breed all over again!

Okay. Enough reflecting and playing, and thinking about playing. Time for me to look busy, to rattle pans, run water, and make domestic strides.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ugly Delicious

You may be tempted, but please do not steal the name of our bakery: Ugly Delicious.

I baked this cake.
And I "decorated" it.

How's that for honest?

I mean seriously. Would anyone want to admit that they woke up and decided "I think I will bake a beautiful, tiered cake in honor of my son's birthday. I will make real buttercream frosting and set the cake on a very pretty dish. I will use a pastry bag, so the frosting comes out in lovely flourishes. And I know to be careful about keeping the crumbs out of the frosting… I learned that in the cake decorating class Alex and I took." And then share the hideous results?

Yes, that's right. I took a class to get this good. These are not the results of natural skills alone. This is achieved with time under the tutelage of a professional cake decorator.

Don't blame the professional. She was good.

And it has not escaped my notice, the really important questions: The whys:
Why bake a cake?
Why not let Costco employees do what they were born to do, which is to make big, cheap, delicious cakes?
Why buttercream frosting?
Why not pie?
Why harbor and nurture the fantastically absurd dream of being a clever-lovely-gifted cake decorator? Why?

Clever-lovely-gifted cake decorator?
It is not my destiny. I see that.
But I couldn't just walk away.
I should have walked away.
Other things should have been accomplished… could have been accomplished.

Priorities. It's a word. I should learn it. Then set some.

I am ashamed.
And slightly amused.
And confused… why do I care? Why do I want to make, bake, sew, sow, sing, dance, quote, equate, dictate, lactate, paint, decorate… ? And please, if I am a big achiever, why not set useful goals, like "unpack house," "go to Post Office," "floss," "clean desk?"

William, Alex, Max, and Maria each decorated their own cupcake. The cake-cake we are saving for when Geoff comes home, because he would be really sad if he missed the birthday candle. I think it's like the one Gretchen told me about, and if it works, we are not going to care what the cake looks like. I found it for a lot less at the market. I hope it's not inferior. I am counting on a thrilling, eye-catching cake topper-show stopper!

So, Alex named our bakery. Ugly Delicious. Everything is baked with love, and an honest attempt at beauty, but without any real ability to achieve decorator mastery. And most importantly everything is delicious, and thanks to Trader Joes' dye-free and convenient mix, it was easy to whip-up.

June is the Birthdayiest Month

I cannot think of another month more full of birthdays than this month. I keep learning of more and more Juners, and we are not even half way through the month of June... there are more Juners to come!

Jill had a birthday, and Heidi, and Jen Rat... thanks to FB I can catch up with these June friends. Aunt Carol celebrated her birthday, so did Laura Jane. I couldn't be with Delia, my mommy, when it was her birthday, but then we had a catch-up dinner and celebrated her birthday, and Hans', and Bill's, and Alex's. Poor Bill... he may never forgive us for eating Bandini burritos without him. I believe it was my nephew Jared's birthday. I have to be careful, because I am going to leave someone out. I will not forget that cousin Julie's birthday is on the 24th, that Phil's is coming around.

There are some special graduations too.
Is anyone getting married? We weren't invited to any weddings. I know because I haven't had that panic attack over finding dress shoes and long pants for three tall boys.

My mom came from Oregon, then she and her sister drove their mom down to our corner of the state. My cousin Becky S came too. And we met my brother Hans and his wife, Gretchen, and we filled ourselves with chips and salsa, and laughter, and music, which is a mighty fine way to honor birthdays.

Here is Max, who will be twelve in August. He grew extra much last week and now he is almost as tall as Alex.

And there is my beautiful cousin Becky S. I am going to lure her south, so she can be my personal assistant. I need a personal assistant.

Alex was probably thinking about homework and finishing projects. It's that time of year. This is why he wisely chose to postpone a birthday party until school is out. Hopefully he will be able to relax and enjoy planning and hosting a rousing, good-fun sixteenth birthday Steampunkapalooza soon.

Geraniums. Red geraniums and those blue tiles. I am loving these saturated colors, the heat and coolness of summer. Oh summer. I love you summer.

Delia and Becky. Sisters. Hermanas.

I am so glad my mom extended her plans to include time with us. She flew from Oregon to bring Grandma from Pasadena up to Oregon for the summer. It was a quick visit, but such a good one. My mom has been amazing about making herself available, traveling around to spend time with her three children, her six grandchildren, her own mother. I appreciate this very much.

Do you do this? Get family together and then take as many pictures as you can, stop pedestrian traffic, try to get everyone in the shot? You cannot regret it. In fact I regret all the times we didn't take as many pictures as possible.

And it is always so worth it to get a passerby or a willing waitress to take a picture. We almost got everyone, but by this time Geoff had already left with Max and Alex... too much homework for these midweek extravaganzas. Short visits, long ones, easy dinners, extravaganzas, as many pictures as possible, family time, music and laughter... I hope our summer is full of any and all of this. And birthdays too... however we can celebrate them, may they all be good ones.