Friday, June 29, 2012

{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, June 28, 2012

The Graduates 2012

It's the end of the world, as we know it.

One home, two high school graduates... let's do this thing!

Something like an actual graduation ceremony, this post will be long, personal, emotional, serious, fraught with meaning and symbolism, and unless you know anyone graduating, it will be more than you ever want to see or know about people leaving high school... otherwise it will be epic!!

Courted by art schools, accepted by Cal Poly Pomona and Humboldt. Making his own way, at UCP. Recognized for achievement in science, wearing engineering cords for four years in robotics. Founder and president of "Art and Engineering" club. Treasurer of Sky Consortium. Cap and gown Tron-ed.

Accepted to Cal Arts, Humboldt. Courted by many more. Making her own way, at UCP, because community college is the smart way to go! Wearing her cords for four years as robotics kid, president of marketing for one two years! Recognized for achievement in art, and all around awesomeness. Suki is the spirit of SDA. Cap and gown blinged, 'cause Suki is shiny.

They are their awesome selves, in an awesome school, ranked #402 in the country and awarded a gold medal by US news and World Report. Their robotics team has been to championships three times, built one of the fastest mini-bots, and been awarded Engineering Inspiration, and Spirit recognition, in multiple regional competitions. They are a credit to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Music, and Math. uh-oh... I know. I'm gushing. No apologies. It's my blog. They make me proud and loud.

I just wanna tell it like it is, the good stuff, before they say Bye. You don't have to move away to be moving on.

Okay, but wait. Before any So Cal kid can officially graduate... burritos. The Justin Burrito, particularly. And I would like to add my apologies to any homesick Encinitans who cannot be here, enjoying their own burrito. Lo siento, amigos.

Alex, Max, and William

We load 'em up, and head out.

And we arrive really, really early. But, it's open seating and everyone comes to graduation. It's a party in the grandstands, on the field, all night. So, early is a good thing.

Andrea and Amy, come to see all their sisters and brothers graduate. They are loud and proud, too!

This evokes some of the best memories of being a part of the Paradox family.

Maria and Tutu, reading Maria's book, ready to pass the time until the show begins.

Sammay and Amy, and more good memories of robotics.

William, Max, James, Bambi... scholars and artists, all.

Grant, Suki, Sammay, and Nate... all these great photo ops. No regrets about our early arrival.

Nick. Uhm... I sort of know Nick. I sort of know a lot of these grads, because of robotics and parties, and FB, and school events. And, well, seeing them in their caps and gowns... oh, here comes the emotional part, and I start taking everyone's picture, and tearing up over them, two weeks later... Sorry, Nick. You don't know me. I'm a parent, loud, proud, and I blog. It's compulsive. You look good, by the way. Love the winged horse of academic magic.

Hello, Claire, future chairwoman of all things possible.

Alex, Elio, and Claire. This class has class.

And now, a word from our sponsor: Remember to pick up a cold and spicy tub of guacamole, with your crisp and flavorful El Nopalito corn chips. I also packed juice, water, cheese and apples. Que bueno, amigos.

Ah, but I didn't think of flowers, or silly string. Amy and Andrea were seriously organized. I'm taking notes. The class of 2013 will be a cannot miss graduation.

Matt and Grant. More friends, alumni, artists and scholars.

Myron and Sandy. Let's see... Andy graduated last year, and Olivia is still coming up, so, yeah... they're here for the Paradox family! It made me happy to be with such a big bunch of friends, and family. Sure, now I am gushing and full of sentiment, but going in, I did not realize how emotional and heart touching this day would be. Every familiar face, seeing these students cross over and out of high school, and all the shared joy made me feel really blessed.
First on the field, the teachers of SDA, with Stimson on the far left... he's got his camera!

Have you noticed? This is not a typical graduation? True, that. The students carry their robes into the staging area, so they can prove they are wearing clothing beneath. Otherwise, they are free to enhance their robes and caps with style statements. They choose who they will sit with... no alphabetical order, here. While we waited for them to come in, we listened to pre-recorded thank you messages from graduates. And there are no speeches... no guest lectures, no "celebrity moments." Each student wrote something, about twenty words, and their messages are read, or sung by their counselors, as they walk up to shake hands with their principal. Every message is different. Some are sentimental, others are hilarious. There are poems, quotes, songs, pop references, inside jokes, and little bios. It's all personal. It's all good.

One cool thing about a Tron gown... it is highly visible, even from far away. I spy Alex, getting his picture taken by Stimson. And I can still hear Maria, sitting beside me, on her daddy's lap, cheering wildly!

And I see Tots... she's number five, and covered in well earned academic cords. Tots-Tatiana is full of S.T.E.A.M.M.

From this angle, the Mustangs look like unicorns. Fitting, somehow.

Great view. I see Tots. I see Elio, Isaac ML, and Alex!

Maria sees them, too!

Here come Nate, Sammay, Suki, Annie... all of 'em!

They're selling a video. Should I buy the video? I can't remember all their speeches, and a lot of them were really good. I wish I could remember them. Guess I should buy the video. Who says "video" any more? Gad. DVD. Duh.

Mom, here comes Alex. He listed twenty defining things about himself. I remember "robots" and "electromagnetism." I remember feeling elated, cheering, wishing I had a zoom lens.

A zoom lens and photographic memory, and a time machine, because time moves too fast, too wibbly wobbly, and I just want to be his mommy, and watch him grow up, all over again.

Remember about the gown check, and making sure everyone was dressed? Well, you can make rules, and monitor things, but sometimes people figure out a way to be their true selves... and if you see these two at the beach, they will be in Speedos.
Seen, June 15, 2012... not far from the beach.

A wave, then a double wave. Here comes Suki!

I feel a wave of emotions.

Every graduate carried a birthday candle, and handed it to the principal. It's random. It's SDA. He has over three hundred birthday candles now.

The field is full of graduates and happy families. We stayed long enough to take three pictures, then home!

It only took four hours... two waiting, two celebrating.

Alex, his diploma, and family.

A good day.

Bobbie, Suki, Ruth, and Darrahl

Home again, relaxing with friends and family, enjoying good food, recalling the best of high school, and moving forward. A very good day.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Barn... ain't nobody here, but us chickens!

Little Farm~Little Barn, is what I have been saying, for months. Since the earliest days of March, when we laid out the footprint, and discussed the details and hopes for our glorified shed. This little barn of ours would be a charming substitute for the shark cage where the chicas sleep and lay, a dignified answer to errant garden tools and straw bales, and a secure defense from predators and foul weather.

Most of the the job would be managed by Geoff and William. They logged in countless evening and weekend hours. Geoff designed it as they went, and William learned all about carpentry, power tools, framing, leveling... all of it! They are a good team. They were both focused and excited about how it was coming together.

Sometimes, they got a little extra help from the rest of the resident Birds, Natalie, Alex, Max, Maria, Suki, and Paul, and Eli pitched in, too. Nothing brings great storms and extra rainfall like an outdoor building project, and so a lot of weekends were lost, and sometimes progress was slow.

Still, it got the point when we had to choose paint, and put up a roof! By the time the siding was on, and the roof in place, we were anticipating at least one barn sleep-over, before the chickens moved in, and certainly a barn-warming party! We did have a party, and it was pure happiness, and backyard bliss... something I attribute to the friends who came, more than just our little barn.

Which came first, the barn or the goats? Well, we know the answer to that! And even before it was complete, the barn became a shelter for our wee goat kids, Ada and Tasha. Though, I have to say, they are far less "wee", and quite a bit bigger and boisterous, but still loads of fun.

The barn has been in the practically complete phase for almost a month, and has already inspired another family to build one, too. We would share the plans, but they are not written down. Geoff is happy to answer questions, and the measurements are fairly straightforward. We did not want to hassle with our city over permits, so it is built specifically as tall, wide and long as we could make it without permits... not too inspiring, but Geoff made it work.

Actually, he more than made it work. It is dear and charming. We know it from the ground up, and I love William and Geoff's hand in it, the parts that everyone had a hand in. We adore our barn. The jacaranda tree burst into bloom, like a benediction of blossoms on our little barn and farm. Alex and I painted the floor... and that same night we were struck with a whole new vision...

Outside, safe and happy, we have...

And, chickens.
Inside... inside is for us.

Alex and I could not imagine chicken blogs all over our freshly painted, chocolate brown floor! We could not imagine goats, wild and rambling, kicking the barn walls.

What we could, all of us, imagine was a cozy retreat, a summer house, a winter cabin. We had this spare bed, and other dear odds and ends, a small table, some hooks, our camping gear, the cot, the lantern...
Delighted with our musings and imaginings, we moved the boy's old high bed in... how nicely it fits, as though the space were made for it! I hung the same bed sheets-turned-curtains Geoff and I had when we lived in Minneapolis, twenty-one years ago. Marie, don't they look dear, still? William and Geoff helped me make 2X4 shelves from the leftover scraps.

More treasure came out of the house and into the barn... little things I've collected over the years. Thrifted trinkets, and second-hand finds... making our barn a cozy nest... not exactly for chickens... well, for some chickens.
Maria and I read Tasha Tudor, and Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and a biography of Beatrix Potter. Her brothers have often read The Hobbit aloud... these stories have inspired a notion in her mind... something she calls CandleLight. CandleLight will happen here, in our barn.
Out this door, the goats are napping in the shade of the Jacaranda tree. The chickens are foraging beneath the fig tree. Soon, we will be adding a fenced yard, just for them.

The amoire was my one splurge... a 100$ find from the second hand store. In it we are storing our tents, camp stove, blankets, and linens, odds and ends. The barn has become a place of pure escapist whimsy... a napping nook, and sleep-out cabin, but we like to think of it in practical terms as well. We will make it our emergency preparedness kit: it will be stocked and ready for whatever earth shaking, calamitous crisis may come.
We read by lantern light... everyone's taken turns camping out. June is still a cooler month, here, but it's quite comfortable inside.
When Maria and I try her idea, CandleLight, we will be living in the barn, wearing clothes we make, eating what we grow, bartering for what we need, showering outdoors. Indoor bathroom is one of our concessions, and Maria says, "We can make our rules what we want them to be." Thank goodness.

The second side door leads to Sanka's loft, the new nesting spot, and the part of the yard where we will be adding the sheltered fenced area for the chicas and goats.

The barn is ready to be wired... just have to choose a lamp. Maybe. Maybe we'll stick to our battery lantern for a bit longer. It's soothing to step away from most conveniences and modern devices, even if we are only a hundred feet away from civilization.
Does it seem a shame? No animals in the barn? Well, the cats come by, and a chica, now and then. I guess we are not cut-out to be real farmers? I don't know. I do know that I love our barn.
Still, a barn, after all, is a place where you expect to see something, besides children reading, and pretty shelves. I guess that's why I couldn't resist bringing home this Flopsy bunny...
Puff, this is a Flopsy Holland Lop bunny.

Bunny, this is Puff. Puff is a chicken, in case you cannot tell.

Oh, and there is a cow, too. She laughs, and laughs about living in our barn.
So. Yes. Our barn is nearly complete. And as it is, it is completely dear.
And inside, looking out.
Thank you.