Saturday, August 20, 2011

Atwood Street Festival

The end of July, in Madison, Wisconsin, was hot.
The end of July, in Madison, Wisconsin, was also the time of the Atwood Street Festival, which happily coincided with our visit with Paul.

We walked to the festival by way of the street where Paul would like to buy his home. Isn't this one lovely?

Oh, Madison homes, do you have to be so very lovely and tempting?

If Paul gets this house, maybe we could paint the Bird House to match. It's a fresh, cool blue... almost, just almost suggesting periwinkle. It could be worth it, just to say, "Suggestive of periwinkle."

The men bought cold beers. Immediately. Can you blame them? It was in the nineties, and humid. In the shade, on the sidewalks, it was hot, but out on the asphalt it became furnace hot. Max even tried a shave ice... which was more of what I call a snow-cone, which are hard, chippy, syrup dripping treats. And when he asked for a spoon, cause it was too hard to bite, the guy said, gruffly, "We're from Chicago." We assume that means something to the effect of no spoons, toughen up.

Maria and I shared an ice cold water, then we learned how to felt a bracelet from wool. We have waited two years to learn how to felt. I know there are a gazillion online tutorials, but this way was so much better, and memorable. A Waldorf school had a shaded booth, and the lovely woman there taught Maria what to do with the fluffy wool and the soapy water. Maria is still wearing her bracelet, and she's happy to tell anyone how she made it.

Mom, when you come, let's play with some of that wool we bought in Barcelona. Remember, All You Knit is Love? We stuffed our carry on bags with light and lovely wool, not even knowing what we would do with it? Colors. We fall in love with colors!

I digress...

The boys talked, in the shade. Maria and I found a second crafting booth. Paul and Geoff finished a cold beer, then found a hot lunch, then picked up more cold beer... then we all walked some more, until we saw the hose and sprinkler. And happy children.

Maria was curious. Tentative. Curious.

Curious won.

Sweet, sweet, sweet. Happy children, and a generous somebody... whoever dragged out that hose, attached a sprinkler, turned on the water and let it go... God bless that somebody. We met generous people, fun people. Paul found a ceramic studio. I got those funny pangs, silly impulses: We should move here, and live in a periwinkle house with Hollyhocks growing along the driveway, and then Paul and I could take ceramics classes, and we could felt wool, and eat guacamole... I do know how to get attached.

We even gave Alex a UW tour, went to Bascom Hill, and the Science Hall, walked up and down State Street. If we can't live in Madison, maybe Alex can. Then we can visit him. He's thinking about it. Maybe. Maybe he's thinking about how hot it was.

I love Madison. And it's cool that Paul is living there now. I think he loves it there too. We enjoyed walking in his neighborhood, checking out houses, and gardens, the great local scene.

We got back to Paul's place, and the kids polished off the rest of their uncle's guacamole. We sat on his porch. We talked about plans, and places. Maria and Paul wiped out some video Zombies. It was a good visit. We look forward to the next one.

Friday, August 19, 2011

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
:: Idea from Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I Really Do LOVE Your Comments... mostly

Found in my email-box today:

"I feel that this blog is very misleading. Here I sit, needing to express my displeasure with a recent visit to Popeyes Chicken, searching for a chicken blog and this is what I find. The meal was filling but did not please my senses to the point of satisfaction. The mash potato container was only 1/3 full and I was only allowed 2 half full sauce containers for dipping. The sweet unsweetened sweet tea was very good. The lady taking orders was very pleasant. All in all not a very good trip but I would try again in the next year or two, with less pretense. I don't know what that means but it sounds good. I love cats. BT"

~From Tina The Lama

Well, dear The Lama, or may I call you Tina?

I am not sure why you feel misled by Chickenblog, except that I do not have a complaint board, or a chatroom for discussing take-out chicken experiences. But, I am here, and I am interested, and you are more than welcome to express yourself, to describe the disappointing lunch.

I have never been to a Popeye's Chicken, and your review gives me pause about ever planning a visit. I have been to Pollo Campero, in Guatemala, and I miss it, or at least the memory of it. I enjoy a filling meal, but I do prefer meals that please my senses to a point of satisfaction... in other words: it better be really tasty. When I read that your mashed potato container was practically empty, I felt a wave of aggravation. Was it too late to go back? I speak up... when servers forget an order, or when something falls far short of what I paid for, I let it be known that I want things righted.

Is "unsweetened sweet tea" a kind of iced tea? I have heard of "sweet tea" and I have assumed it is a regional version of iced tea. I don't drink iced tea. If soda is the only option, then I like to grab a lemon slice, squeeze it over ice, and then add some lime soda, and some soda water. The soda water cuts the sweetness of the lime drink, and the fresh lemon just improves the drink over-all. If I could get Mexican Coke at a take-out restaurant, then I would be sorely tempted, because Mexican Coca-Cola is the best.

Sauce shortage. Was the sauce for the chicken? I loathe sauce shortage. If it's a good sauce, then please let me have enough. Do not be stingy with the sauce, right? So, was the chicken kind of flavorless? Did it need sauce to make it appetizing? I find a well seasoned, nicely cooked chicken doesn't need extra sauce... but, of course sometimes the sauce is the thing.

Good service. I am glad you found that to be pleasant. I've worked many service jobs, in retail and food service, and I always took satisfaction in being pleasant, courteous, and well informed. It seemed to make my job more interesting to be helpful and friendly.

You never know. Someone in the kitchen could have been having an off day, and if you had some favorable moments in your visit to the Popeye's, then maybe they do merit a second chance. Less pretense? I think I can see what you mean... you are not going to have big expectations, since your last visit was "not a very good trip."

Perhaps you will feel differently toward Chickenblog, now that you have found that you were able to express your displeasure, and perhaps you will drop by again, and we can chat about cats, robotics, gardens, deep thoughts, and other musings, or perhaps you will have another chicken meal critique to share. Chickenblog covers a lot of topics, we welcome visitors, but I must protest the suggestion that I have ever misled anyone.

Have a nice day.


Natalie, The Chickenblogger

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Cat, The Porch, and Grandma's Home

This is Jabba.
And Max.

They were sitting together on the porch of Grandma's house, when we were in Wisconsin. The fireflies were just beginning to show themselves, and the heat of the day was breaking, a little bit.

That same morning we left Eagle River, the forests, the Hodag, Laura and Gary's sweet hospitality and cabin home.

We've been home for some time now, and it's pleasant recalling the details, and happy days of our summer vacation.

Jabba was Lily's kitty, and now he is Phil's kitty, and on this occasion he was Grandma's kitty guest, passing his stay on Grandma's porch so he wouldn't get his tail caught under feet. Lily had recently shaved him, and he has an interesting face. Max took to him instantly.

Goodness, has it been a year, already? To the day. One year ago when Max brought home his very own birthday kitty, Ferris. Poor, poor Popoki. I know he misses his furry friend.

Grandma's house, the porch, the creek and the swing, the two blocks walk to town... familiar, comfortable, home. Her home is so welcoming... how to describe it? Can I just repeat familiar and comfortable? Then you will know. Geoff played here as long ago as he can remember, and longer than memory. He brought me here at the end of finals, my sophomore year, Christmas. We brought William, when he was four weeks old. There are very few homes, only one other actually, that I have known for so long. Familiar, comfortable, and dear. Very dear.

It's the people, of course. The memories, of the people. Grandma is there, and Phil comes by, Carol, and Tom, their children, and their children. We played, and cooked, and talked. Gabe brought Jordan and Griffin, and we met Evelyn. We invited Paul and his mom. Full, or quiet, Grandma's house is always comfortable, and welcoming. It always has been.

We don't have to be doing any particular thing. We played ping-pong in the basement, walked to the Farmer's Market, we followed the fireflies, and the storm that came that first night. We shared stories, and drew pictures. We ran in the sprinklers, watched Talent shows on the television, and ate zucchini bread.

And we sat on the porch with Jabba the cat. Max and Alex think he is marvelous. I think he looks cranky, but I know his expression belies his sweet temper. I liked hearing Lily, when she scooped him up and smothered him with endearments. Max, and Maria liked to do the same. Jabba got a lot of love that week we spent in Wisconsin.

I am sentimental this morning. I am immersed in memories, and the feeling that cats and children, and porches, fireflies, and summer storms, are gifts that we should enjoy, and recall with thankfulness. Just that. Slow down. Pay attention. Be loving. All that is dear, and sometimes we do not know how dear... all that is dear can be fleeting. I am sentimental this morning, and thinking of these things.

I am thinking of Susan, whose grief, and reflections have touched my heart.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

First Day of First Grade

Maria, in first grade.
She loves her new school.
She has long hoped to try as many different schools as possible, maybe all the schools in the world.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Passion FIRST.

"I am not gonna say 'science is rock-n-roll,' but science rocks." ~Jack Black.

For me, the celebrities of FIRST are the students. Always have been, always will be first. They are the passion, they are the drive. The students are what keep me interested and vested. You know that I believe it is about the robots... the robots designed and built by the students.

2102 Team Paradox is a high school robotics club that was started by students, for students. It is supported by mentors, teachers, parents... all volunteers. It is supported by sponsors, big and small... all generous. And 2102 Team Paradox supports and mentors other teams, like 3128 Aluminum Narwhals, and FLL, Mexico FRC teams, and up and coming Team San Diego teams. 2102 Team Paradox's Spirit is award winning, and their Engineering passion is Inspiring!

"For too long we have put a spotlight on entertainment only."

ChickenBlog has had the spotlight on FIRST 2102 Team Paradox. The students and their dreams, their dedication to learning have inspired a lot of focus and attention from this blog. Why? I post about Team Paradox, about robotics, about STEM STEAMM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, and Music, because I want to promote a fervor, and passion for education. I want to showcase what students do and what they can do when they have opportunity.

We cannot say 'children are the future,' and then close metal shops, cancel technology programs, remove music and art from schools. The 'future' is not a far off distant destination. The quality of our future is determined today, this moment, this school year, this Sunday afternoon, and the children need our support and confidence now. They need space to work, places to play. They need open studios, tools, workspace, and they need the genuine interest and support of all of us to give them time, information, encouragement, resources, support. It can be a hot meal, a safe environment, and facilitating inspiration.

The children may be 'the future,' but they need us to act on their behalf today... not to do everything for them, but to give them the chance to meet challenges and earn success. Now is the time to put the spotlight on education, on students who want to shine in science, technology, engineering, art, math, and music. Now is the time to recognize what is being accomplished by young people and to open more doors, give more time and attention, money, praise, resources and focus... so that these brilliant, capable young people can secure the future with their good ideas. They are inventive. They are resourceful. They are capable, and we should be celebrating them.

The future is looming. It's zooming toward us! It may seem intangible, but we can make it better by acting now.

What can I say? I get pumped about learning, about listening to children share their ideas, about saying, "Yes, I want you to try that, go there, build it, make it, share it, break it, try again!" So, I keep posting about it. I keep hoping one more person, one more company, one more sponsor will catch on, get sparked, and give a student an opportunity, a nod of encouragement, the spotlight. It's an awesome thing to see students embrace the opportunities and excel.

FIRST is passionate too, and they have found some rock-n-roll celebrities who are sparked for robotics and students, for technology!

"Science to me is music."

When the teams were in St Louis for Championships, The Black Eyed Peas, and Willow Smith gave FIRST robotics a very exclusive concert experience. That concert, supporting and cheering for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math turned the spotlight on the students, the future, and tonight, on ABC, you can see the concert, and hear from some pretty well known faces in showbiz. "Like" the facebook page, set the DVR, and watch: :: August 15, 6pm Central, 7pm Eastern and Pacific Standard Time. Today!

Post show, impressions:
My take: I can vouch for the students and the robotics. I think Delia made good points when she wrote this comment, "The student portions were nice. It would have been a good thing for them to print out the objectives / mission statement and way less "celebrity" showcasing. Perhaps Al Gore's network, Current, could produce a FIRST documentary for the sake of the fantastic content and leave out the celebrity hype. At least Dean K. received appropriate accolades. Sad to think that only hype will "sell", however, it was a good first step in letting a diverse audience in on FIRST."