Saturday, March 17, 2012

Good Morning, Amira!

Amira voted in the One Topic At A Time post, and today I am going to share the secret of the Ladybug Mystery, just for her.

Lately, we have to look for the chica's eggs. We may find one or two in their nest box, but we have seven laying hens, and only one or two eggs in the nest box means that some of the hens are hiding their eggs. We found seven eggs where we are building the barn, nested in the old tomato vines. We found another clutch hidden beneath a shrub, by the garden path. I find them behind the coop, under a wood pile, in the bottom of an empty flower pot... it's like a daily egg hunt!

Zoe, the sneakiest and most adventuresome.

Little Debbie, she's small and flighty.

Penny flies right over the fence, no problem. She also likes to sit on the eggs.

The sneakiest hens are Penny, Little Debbie, and Zoe, because they are very small, and they can escape their yard by flying over the fence or slipping between the posts. They were raised by hens, and not by us, so they don't have any faith or trust in people. They scare easily, they run from us, they panic when we hold them, and they have strong instincts about hiding their eggs from predators. It's really quite silly.

Last week I noticed the ladybug sandbox was open, just teeny bit, and I realized that I need to clean it out. Snails and spiders get in there during winter, when it's not being used. It gets icky! Well, I thought to creep myself out and peeked inside... and what do you suppose I found?

Yup! Another secret stash of itty-bitty eggs, from our three itty-bitty wild chicas, Penny, Little Debbie, and Zoe! They had to really squeeze themselves and be particularly sneaky to get into the small opening of the ladybug sandbox, but they did it.

Today it is raining, and I probably won't let the chicas out of the shark cage, unless we get a dry spell. Besides being sneaky and silly, the chicas are also not too smart about the weather, and they will get soaked and muddy, before it occurs to them to stand under shelter. When Zelda sees all the eggs in the nest box, she'll probably get very excited about sitting on them, because being broody is her thing!

Well, Amira, Happy St. Patrick's Day! And thanks for voting in our One Topic game. It sure will be great when your family is in town, together, and we can have extra help with our wild and silly egg hunts!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Most Votes Go To...

Big Box From China!

Of course, all other topics will have their day, too.
I can't help myself. But. First things first...


Let's see what came on the ship...

To look at Geoff's face, you would think it was Christmas morning...


It's... uh... oh geez... I forgot.
That is the honest truth. I can make a reasonable guess, but darn it... I wish I was 100% sure, because now I am really embarrassed. Listen, just because I love all this stuff... machines, tools, science, technology, engineering, robots, it does not mean I have it all figured out. I wish I were naturally geeky, intuitively in tune to the machine shop tools and devices that make my family gush and swoon.

Hold on. I was paying attention, really. This is a smaller version of the same machine,
a mill?!
that was used to make Rinzler and CLU, the Mini-Bots for FIRST 2102 Team Paradox, in LogoMotion. This may be a mill.

Alex explained to me, that unlike a 3-D printer, which builds objects by adding material, this device will build things by removing material. And I remember that it is not a lathe.

Yes, I am going with mill!
As soon as Geoff is home, I will confirm, and if I am wrong, then we can all share a laugh over my poor retention. If I am right I will be doing a fist pump and goofy dance of triumph.

And what does one do with a six hundred pound, second-hand mill?
I won't leave you hanging... it will be put to work to mill parts for a CNC machine.

What is a CNC machine, or specifically router? It's a computer controlled machine that will, in Geoff's words, "Uh... heh... make anything!"

Hold on. The Big Box From China brought a machine, that will make a machine, that will "make anything?!"


Okay. Who wants to know what we're going to do with the Big Box?!

{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.
:: Inspired by 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, March 15, 2012

One Topic At A Time

According to the unofficial guide to the Blogosphere, volume 2, chapter 3: "A blog should have a concentration. There should not be too many topics, too much bouncing from subject to subject. A good blog must focus, in order to build an audience, and hold the interest of the readers."

This I have read, in countless articles and advice columns. And this same wisdom I have consistently ignored, neglected, even abused. But, hey, at least I am consistent.

Today, in honor of the people who come here, to Chickenblog, looking for a particular focus, a certain subject... I am offering a chance to voice your preference. The subject of the next Chickenblog post will be chosen by vote, by the readers. Voter fraud is permissible. Vote early. Vote often. This is your chance to have your say, and dabble in corruption, too.

Personally, my brain is full of deep thoughts and other musings, and I have a hard time sticking to just decorating, or showing my latest lipstick color. If I had a puppy, you know I would be all over that. And while I may only scratch the surface, like a happy hen, as I go pecking around, looking for good stuff, I find that the world has plenty to offer and I want to check it all out.

So. What's it gonna be? I cannot decide. Help me out. What should I post about next? The choices are as follows:

A. Big Box From China

Bigger than a bread box, heavier than a hammer. This box was delivered yesterday, and anticipated since forever!

B. Ladybug Mystery

Those chicas! "I told you they was organised."

C. Little Farm~Little Barn

Construction progresses nicely. Have you seen our joists?

D. Our Light Box

Maria is tracing on fabric, and she and Natalie are pulling needles and threads. What are these chicas up to?

E. Monday, I Cooked

I've hardly done a thing since, but at least one day this week, I was the chef suprema, even concocting a new recipe using secret ingredient combinations.

F. Full S.T.E.A.M.M. Ahead!

A bunch of inspiring and spirited kids, on their way to an International robotics competition... it's about Passion FIRST!

G. Rats!

Lillian Virgina Mountweazel had the spotlight yesterday. Normally she's a sweetie-pie, but this morning she is making her feelings known with her raspberry face... pffffft! I tried to explain to her, a blogger has to have thick skin, and not everyone is as keen about Ratty-Rats, as we are.

The next post, the next topic of deep thoughts and other musings is up to you!
Voting begins now!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lillian Virginia Mountweazel and The Summer House

Good afternoon, dear Weazie.
Lillian Virginia Mountweazel, actually.
She doesn't expect formality.
She's casual, easy going.
Our dear Ratty-Rat.

Our bunny, Sanka, got a home improvement, when she moved out of her old hutch and into her Bunny Casa and Loft. That left a vacant apartment. Weazie lives in a very large fish tank, in the garage, snug and secure, and she gets the company of everyone coming and going. These days are warmer, and all the coming and going seems to be outdoors, so William and I came up with a clever idea... while we are outside, building barns and puttering in the spring air, Weazie can be in the hutch!

We moved Weazie's new summer house from the side yard, to a more central spot along the kitchen wall. It's always shaded there, and from the new spot, Weazie can catch all of our action as we go about our business, and she can enjoy her own amusements in her vacation home.

Weazie's reaction? Happy-explorer-scurrying-snoozing bliss.

She has plenty of room in her regular home, but now she can enjoy open air, new sniffables, and the novel obstacles and goodies we set up for her. Even her naps look more interesting, probably due to her invigorated state, and elevated endorphins.

Food is not a big incentive for her. She loves to interact, and explore. Sometimes though, we find something that she finds exceptionally tempting, like the brown rice she is enjoying.

Good friends, a shoulder to lean on, fine food, a home with a view... Weazie lives the good life.

Yes, she does live a very good life.

All this talk of fine food and good friends reminds me of two things:

1. It's Izzie's birthday, and she is six, today!
Happy Birthday, Izzie!

2. It's Pi Day!
Happy 3.14159265358979323846... Day!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Little Farm~Little Barn

A shed, by any other name, could be sweeter... like, say, if you were to design your shed to look like a barn, and then call it a barn. Suddenly the modest, small out building is grand and highly anticipated, very sweet, indeed.

The barn will be fifteen feet by eight feet, and not taller than ten feet. The roof will be gambreled, which makes me think of the old Fischer Price barns. I wonder if we can make the barn doors moo when we open them! Inside will be storage space, a tiny loft, roosts, nest boxes, and a secret door leading to our subterranean, indoor, heated pool and water slide. *Sorry, I am inclined to enhance small details.* There will be a wash tub, with cold, running water.

For me this little barn is a big deal. It's very exciting... I love imagining it complete, and I love seeing everyone helping bring it together.

As you can see, if you drop by the Bird House this week, we will likely put you to work! Geoff and William finished setting all the posts, and cutting them to size. Then they made a big shopping trip to the lumber store. Since we rented the store truck, they were maximizing the opportunity to come home with all the heavy supplies. It was good timing, having so many strong and willing recruits at home to help unload the truck.

Thank you, Suki and Eli, Alex, Max, Paul, and Maria, Geoff and William. And for the record, I put down the camera and carried lumber, too. The work is moving along, rather swiftly. And we learned from Patricia that the barn raising party will be best if held before we add the roof, so we have that to look forward to!

Monday, March 12, 2012

What if...

The other day I clicked a gadget in the sidebar of Chickenblog. Instead of an editing field popping up on my monitor, Google sent me a message:

"Page Not Found"

Not alarming. These things happen.
But, they also included an image, a sort of alternate reality. And that was alarming. It was like the manifestation of a bad dream, where the world you have created, built, sheltered, and preserved has vanished! Gah!

What if Geoff hadn't insisted I give blogging a try?
What if we didn't have our own URL, and this journal, this scrapbook we call "Chickenblog?"
What if I hadn't been keeping track of our good days, our valleys, the twists and turns of life?
What if I didn't have a Big, Beautiful, Black camera, and a computer to upload images to?
What if Chickenblog, as we know it, was gone?

What if Chickenblog was a recipe site!?!

Why Google-Blogspot?
Why show me this?
Are these the shadows of the blog that has not happened, but will happen in the time before us? Our blogs will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead, but if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me! I will honor Chickenblog in my external hard-drive, and try to keep it all the year. Deep thoughts and other musings, with a view, to the past, present, and future.
(My apologies to Charles Dickens.)

Sigh... that is one vision I do not care to ponder any further.

Thankful Focus

I just remembered... Mom, wasn't I going to download your pictures to my computer, so you could add them to your memory stick? Oy. Somebody forgot.

I knew it. I knew that it wouldn't take long before I would miss my mom, before I would think of something I meant to do, or say, and she would be just out of range for a quick visit, a drop-by. Same goes for my brother, who lives just far enough out of my time zone that I can't run by and watch the kids, or say good-bye to Georgie, their dear kitty. And this is the hard part about living too far apart from loved ones. Yes, we can make trips, and visit, but I miss the daily stuff, the casual and informal, the spontaneous contact.

Oh. And none of this has much to do with peafowl and wisteria. Not much, but maybe a little something.

The something is the happy memories Delia and I made, together, when we went exploring, before she left. I took her to Leo Carillo Ranch, Los Quiotes. Each of us with our Big Beautiful Black cameras, each of us with an eye toward enjoying the serenity and bloom of late winter. I can describe what I see in each image, but more interesting and dear to me, is what I remember and feel when I see these images... it's all about our exchanges, the ideas, and plans we talked about as we strolled the grounds, and followed the calls of the peacocks.

We covered a lot of ground... a distant past, hers in East Los Angeles, upstairs from her friend, slipping away to test the boundaries and find new sights. Recent adventures, like dinner with Hans and Gretchen. Our cameras focused on our surroundings, and our thoughts on each other, and our families, the grocery list, the pick-up times, the butterflies, and colors.

We agree... Grandma would love it here, and we want to convince her to let us give her a wheelchair ride across the parking lots, so she can reserve her walking legs for the pretty places, so she can have a pleasurable stroll where there is no hurry, no finish line.

Mom, when are you coming back? When can we bring Grandma, and Becky? Or maybe we can see The Huntington, this summer...

We'll make plans, and have more visits. But I do wish we did not have to work around airports and long stretches of highway. I wish I could drive around, picking up family along the way, stopping here for an impromptu picnic, a stroll. Nothing elaborate, nothing to make reservations for... just simple.

The wisteria is blooming. I love that it thrives, looks this beautiful, even in really lousy soil. Isn't that amazing? It's good, to remind me to keep moving forward, to give my best, even when circumstances are not as favorable as I wish. Even though I admit that missing my family makes me sad, I do appreciate the beauty of our moments together, our means of staying close, and the memories we build when we finally do get to be in each others company.

Thank you, Mommy. For everything. You know, life and all, and the memories. And thank you, so very much, for being generous with your time and focus, for always coming to us, me and my brothers, all the family. You are a blessing, Ron, too. I see it... how much you both do to keep that long stretch of highway between us less distant, more accessible. I love you both for doing this, for keeping us all closer.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring is Calling!

You'll find us outside. Without looking at the calendar, or referencing charts and graphs, I declare: Spring has sprung, and we are embracing the season, the air, the activities, the flight of the all the Painted Lady butterflies, the pea shoots, the longer days.

Last night William and Geoff finished mixing and pouring the concrete for the floor posts of the barn. It was the kind of labor with both heavy lifting, and gentle touches, as they leveled and measured every post setting.

It was probably more fun, when the chickens were out, and Maria was squealing and running in the hose spray. William and Geoff definitely outlasted all of us. The work took all day, and they came in very tired.

My tools have been in the front yard, where I dug up shrubs, turned the soil, then prepared it for a flower and veggie bed.

Am I setting myself up for bitter resentment of nature? These won't be in raised beds. I am tempting the rabbits, sparrows, crows, gophers, and cats with all these lovelies. It must be a sickness of Spring that dares me to labor and toil for a project so perilous!

Even the chickens have been known to find their way into the front yard, and it will only take one slip up like that to wreak total havoc on my progress. I think it's the zinnias. The beauty of zinnias is a sufficient intoxicant to make me recklessly dig, pull roots, drag a hose, lift, haul, and garden.

Meanwhile, in the backyard, everyone takes a turn inspecting the work of laying out the barn. Benjamin walks the line, making sure to test the level and tension of the strings.

He surveys from west to east, then doubles back. Following the cat, the chickens walked through and peered down all twelve post holes, sometimes back-filling holes that looked too deep, in their humble opinions. The chicas may have "humble opinions," but they do not have informed opinions, and the foreman told them to scram.

William, Alex, Max, and Eli standing back to see whether the barn should be measured parallel and aligned to the fence, or if Natalie was right, and the barn should be surveyed in a more organic-wibbly-wobbly way. It was unanimous: definitely wibbly-wobbly. Geoff still measured and aligned, but everyone agreed that turning the barn slightly, to face the back of the house, felt better. One more thing we agree on: a barn raising party.

Never pass-up on a barn party. Never pass-up on calling a largish shed a "barn." And never pass-up on being outdoors when Spring calls.