Friday, June 25, 2010

We Fare Well

Hello Joe.

Hello Zoe.

Afternoons in the garden have been rollicking good.

We open the door to the shark cage and let the chicas explore. We carry Joe out of his hutch. Amazingly, even Betty has been see out of her nest box. Her broody time has gone well beyond twenty days, but every day she is taking longer and longer excursions away from her empty nest.

And when Betty cannot leave her nest, she receives visitors, like Temple, and Joe.

Maybe the timing is in our favor... she has been sitting on two wooden eggs, which I removed one at a time over the last couple of days, and now: Ta-da! There are chicks. Could she think she did it? Has she simply grown accustomed to their pipping, and figures they must have been around all along?

I wasn't sure she would handle this very well, but Betty has met the new chicas. They visit her coop, she visits their coop.

Sure, the little pippers look impressed, a bit wary, but Betty has been rather matter-of-fact, nonchalant, friendly. No pecks on their feathered heads. No shrill hen squawks. All quite calm and casual. What a relief. What joy.

I could offer apologies, or pretend that this was only a quick visit... but the truth is I can (and do) spend hours in the company of Betty, Joe, Temple, Tesla, Zoe, Trudy, and Zelda. Fortunately the children join me, or at least know where I can be found. I tend the garden, I listen to Maria's narrations and join her games. And I sit, watching the chicas, admiring Joe, day dreaming, laughing, figuring out the camera, unwinding.

Watching chickens?

Oh yes.
I do.
I am the luckiest farm-girl in the world.
My boots get real dirt on them.
I have dust in my ears.

And I have bazillions of funny, pretty, silly, dear chica pictures.

Joe... Joe?
What do you sniff, Joe?
Some carrot tops, and radish, corn sprouting?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Thinking of Nena

Nena, September 19, 2003. Sleeping on Alex's baby quilt.

Susan writes wonderful garden posts, and today's included a picture of her kitties snuggled happily together. I think I've told her before, her Sassy Frankie! must be one of Nena's cousins. Our Nena passed away almost seven years ago. I mustn't let the years fog my memory, she was sweet in her own way, and she had a wicked side too.

*Frankie is a boy... I have a theory about boy kitties and their mellower-sweeter dispositions, like Bart and Frankie. Nena was as sweet as she could be, which was only when she was perfectly satisfied. Her pretty blue eyes belied her devious mind, her impatience with other breathing creatures... lol.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Our Entertainment

The decidedly unfancy shark cage Casa de Chicas is assembled and waiting for a roof. It's meant to give the new chicas room to spread their wings, and to keep out stalkers and other ravenous chicavores. What it lacks in beauty and style, it makes up for in steel and right angles.

So, now the Polish sisters, and the Silkie Princesses, lil Puff and tiny Zoe are learning the ways of the great outdoors. Everyday we bring them from the heat lamp in the garage to the shark cage in the garden, and they love it. Love it. They scratch the dirt, redistribute the weeds, spread the seeds. They enjoy their dust baths, which honestly look like ruffled chicken seizures. They spastically flap and roll and fan themselves with dirt and dust. A small, brown cloud hangs above them and every nook and cranny gets thoroughly dusted, then their flurry subsides for a moment and they look somewhat dead. But happy.

Seizure---> Dirt cloud--->Happy death--->Repeat

But then something interrupts their blissful cycle.

One of them wanders beyond the steel door… out there…

Then another…

And pretty soon, some are in and some are out...

Houston, we have a problem.

Now the frantic pipping commences.

How does the poem go?

When in trouble
When in doubt
Run in circles
Scream and shout!

They call back and forth to each other. They pace. They fret.

Whose in charge here?

We need a leader!

Go in to the light… no wait!

It's a trap!

I would help them out, but how do you laugh, hold a camera, and wrangle chicas?

"C'mon" says Tesla. "I've been to the other side."

Monday, June 21, 2010


My children are in great schools. Their schools have wonderful teachers, exceptional peers, even amazing administrators and staff. William's school blows me away with their caring and dedication. I love my visits there. Alex's school was a second home during robotics build, and as second homes go, it's pretty awesome. I am more than happy to hang out with Alex's friends, teachers, and mentors, and their families. Max has found a safe haven, a place he has figured out and can navigate. He has had two kind and gifted teachers, each giving him the support and attention he needs. And Maria's school was a salvation to me... she was so happy and nurtured, it was like sending her to an extension of our home, so that I felt supported and confident when I kissed her good-bye Monday through Friday.

So... please understand when I scream: Freedom!!!!
I am only celebrating our liberty from drives, schedules, homework, standardized tests, and other people's plans.


At Alex's school, class of 2010, and his wonderful teachers.

For so many reasons I tear up when I look at these graduation photos. I've known some of these seniors since they were babies. My cousin Vicky, our dear friends son, Henry, all those amazing robotics seniors Andrea R, Isaac S, Tom H, Kevin B, Ben B, Kevin S, and children I have known for years, Ben K, Tanner S... they are moving on, and they left in style. The best graduations ever. Every student writes twenty words, which are read aloud as they come forward for their diplomas. Personal. And laid back. You know a school has done a good job when that many students pronounce their love for their school, for teachers, for their peers.

Isaac and Henry. Engineers Inside.

Isaac, we know from two amazing robotics years. He and Alex also share a passion for airships and steampunk. They hope to work on both of those this summer.

Henry. My goodness. I met him in this same garden Easter 1994. He must have been about two years old. But our family friendships go back further than that. Geoff knew Henry's mom and dad when he was about Henry and Isaac's age and they were all at the same software company. Jola flew with Geoff on his first business trip. Mark has been his manager a number of places and times. Mark and Jola have been our friends always. Friends that are more like family, ties that last.

And Henry has remained as sweet and bright as he ever was. He did the work, supported and warmly nurtured. He made the grades, and stayed on a good course. His achievements are remarkable, admirable. What an honor to see him on this day, when we could all share his pride.

It makes me glad to know Isaac and Henry are going to the same school, to know they will be met by other wonderful students, like Amy K. What? I am just a bit emotional... I can't help thinking about them, and caring for them. All of them. These beautiful children fill me with so much hope and pride.

Okay. No more tears. Joyful tears.

How do you know you have great neighbors?

1. They are the only house that opens their door on Halloween and find chocolate to share with Dorothy.
2. They keep chickens.
3. They hang party lights in the garden, on the house, throughout the year.
4. They do community gardening.
5. They give away lemons and pumpkins.
6. They invite you to color eggs at Easter.
7. They build a biergarten and invite everyone on opening day!

Alex, Maria and I walked over, not sure what to expect at our first beer garden party. We brought Chimay, and I was glad I did, since it was Mike's birthday, as well as biergarten opening. The garden filled up with friends, and overflowed, and everyone was relaxed, happy, celebratory in mood. We had a great time. Geoff joined us too. Maria showed him all the delicious food, the grilled sausages, the potato salad, the salad with plump blackberries.

The chocolate cake. When the hosts whistle and announce the arrival of a cake, you have a good clue that you had better line up for a slice. Maria was prompt. Good choice, Maria.

Nice tie btw. She picked that up when we were thrifting Saturday morning. I am impressed with her eye for style. A little flair is just the thing for a biergarten party.

Yes, we do have great neighbors.
We ate well, and met interesting people. We all enjoyed Maria's birthday dance for Mike... she applied her ballet steps and twirls to the Oompah-pah music playing in the beer garden.

Then we left for home, eager to finish projects and chores, so we can host parties of our own. We keep inviting to our movie under the stars night... time to set a date!

So. To work! William cut the steel roof for the new shark cage temporary and predator proof Casa de Chicas. After he cut the two sheets, he ran the dremel across the edge, smoothing out snags and sharp bits.

William's principal, Mr A, asked him what he'll do this summer and I was happy to hear William's reply. He wants to spend his summer making things. This is good. This is very good.

There's more.
Long post, I know.
We've been busy.
I won't share every thing, every highlight.
I will say: It's nice the summer has begun with so many pleasant and good happenings.

William helping with the roof, Geoff repairing the porch, and preparing to hang the swing, Alex and Max walking and talking together, and Maria and me sprucing up the garden... Joe was out and about, Betty still on the nest, and the chicas acquainting themselves with the new casa... it was a good evening at the Bird House.

We consider raking, but I reminded Geoff that stubbly weeds are chickertainment for freaky feathered fowl.

After playing all afternoon, after chocolate cake and biergarten dancing, after an hour demonstrating the proper way to make mud... she asked, "We can wash my tie, right?"

Yes. Yes we can wash ties. And we can play in mud, play Rock Band with old and new friends, walk and talk, make things, garden, plan, unplan, dance, visit, reflect... summer is here, and we have the luxury of a bit more freedom.

Welcome summer. Thank you freedom.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Special Signs of June

It's June. We know, because of the overcast coastal skies. Some call it gloom, but I love it. We will get heat and light aplenty in July, August, September and October. We know it's June because of the fern leafed trees full of purple blossoms. Jacaranda trees are in full display.

We say "ha-ca-ran-da." When I was ten and on a ferry from Cabo San Lucas to Puerto Vallarta, I met a girl named Jacaranda. I always think of that pretty girl, with the pretty name, when it is June.

These seed pods will drop, just like the flowers. Seasons and cycles are more subtle here than in other places, but we do have them.

We know it is June when the June-bugs appear. They have an interesting life-cycle. We know them best as those poor fliers that come around to crash in to windows and walls. They like the porch light, like so many summer insects. They make a hissing sound. They are June...

Another June sign... Father's Day. Happy Fathers' Day to all the wonderful men I know, the dads, the fathers, the grandfathers, the uncles and friends who know how to share their time and skills, like a dad.

For years I have wanted to get Geoff a hammock for Father's Day, but he always asked me to wait... for us to be in our own place.

So, guess what?

I tried again. We were at the home center, and we saw the hammocks and I made my offer. He almost bit. He agreed it would be nice, but then he was not too excited about the two choices there, so we decided we would keep looking.

Then this morning I offered him breakfast: "Anything. Name it."

He chose bagels and lox. He also chose to bring them home himself. And he chose to window shop on the Internet, then cruise all the tool and tech aisles at Costco. And he asked that we continue finishing home projects, like hanging our porch swing. Maria made him a beautiful plate, with their likenesses.


If he is choosing, and if we are obliging, then wouldn't you say that it makes the day "special?" He doesn't wear ties or cologne. He does not golf. He buys his own books. In fact we both agree that time is our most favorite commodity, and spending it together is very special indeed.

I was teasing him about how he doesn't know how to spin.

Example: His mother called and asked if he was doing anything "special for Father's Day?" Alex and I looked dumbfounded when he replied, "No. Just cleaning. We are coming home from Costco." That's all. Not special. Nothing. Just tied to chores. cue violins


He said nothing about his breakfast choice, the hammock offer, every single tool and tech aisle at Costco, the nice new shirts. His personalized plate.

"It's all in the spin," I told him. Explaining that not talking about things in a positive light can make them sound pretty pathetic. I suppose I am fortunate to have a husband and friend that does not spin. He is a straightforward guy. He wasn't trying to deride his day. He's just stating facts. No embellishments.

He is back at the home center again, trying to buy paint to match the lumber he is replacing from the porch. His choice. His special day. Doing what he likes. He likes making things, and providing for us. He likes buying his own books, and bringing home bagels for breakfast. He likes planning improvements. He likes making our home better, and he likes having our company when he is working.

And we like him, we love him. We love his mind, his hands, his heart, the straightforward and special way he has of loving us. He is here, with us, whenever possible, and we cannot think of a better, more special, way to enjoy this June day, or any time of the year.