Saturday, November 09, 2013

le chat monsieur le Foo

la queque... fouettement la queque... swish~swish

la visage... élégant

la patte pit-pat~pit-pat

la bouche kiss~kiss

le nez sniff~sniff

le yeux... ils sont rêveur... soupir...

le chat monsieur le Foo

Merci beaucoup, le Google!

Friday, November 08, 2013

{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, November 07, 2013

The Old Scrapbook of Domestic Fantasies

Every night I go abroad, afar into the land of... well, of Pinterest, actually. Before I can go to the land of Nod, I often browse the pretty pictures and inspiring Pins at Pinterest. It's part daydreaming, part good-idea-shopping, and probably one of the reasons I rarely pick up a magazine any more. Honestly, I feel a bit sheepish about this admission, because these cannot be easy days for paper-in-the-hands publications, but between the blogs I read, and the bedtime stories Maria and I share, I have all the inspiration and fresh ideas I need. More than I can, practically use, that's for sure!

Last night I dragged out the heap that was lurking in the closet, the one with recipes, wishes, dreams, ideas, and clippings. One spiral bound notebook, with cut-n-paste pictures from magazines I was browsing in the late eighties, through the nineties. It's old school Pinterest! A picture diary of what I liked, what I loved, the life I was aiming for, the spaces I dreamed of. I clipped and pasted recipes, articles, travel suggestions, health tips. I saved images that inspired me. The other was a three-ring binder, with more recipes, and a mix of papers tossed in for later reading-filing-pasting. Papers. Papers. Papers.

I decided to dive in and rescue the keepers, recycle the rest, and try to get things into reasonable order. Honestly, I wish I were as tidy, diligent, and dutiful as all these images and articles inspire me to be. That's my dark-side with magazines and social media... I love it, like a really decadent dessert, but then I am left feeling wholly inadequate, with a bad taste in my mouth and a sad ache inside. I do not want to dwell on this point, because I'm practicing another focus, and I still want to be organized, prepared, diligent, effective, so I try, try, try again. But I would be remiss in not admitting that I struggle. I struggle a lot.

"Perfect Playdough!" The recipe I share in this post really is awesome, but when I went back to read the post I wrote six years ago... oh my! I really do struggle. That was a bit of a rough time, and yet I was still trying reach for that oh-so elusive familial grace, serenity, and domestic effectiveness. I've never made the bubbles, or the finger paints, but I am happy to have made the play dough.

This. I. Excuse me a moment, while I try to comprehend my blessings.

Bunnies, chickens, gardens, inviting spaces we call our own. All of this was pinned in my scrapbook, and I still can gaze at these images, these hopes and wishes, and feel that longing and hope to be there, to live that life. And now. Now, we are keeping bunnies, and watching chickens. Goats, too! We have this amazing space we call our own. Dreams coming true. It's humbling and sweet.

This place, and these blessings are amazing to me. I don't think I've shared this... some days, driving home, I turn onto our street and I start to cry. I feel overcome by relief and joy, and astonishment to be driving home. To be in this place, where we have so much to enjoy and share, and feel good about, and it feels brand new, it feels unreal, or too good to be true. I think I am learning a new story, opening a new chapter, one where I want to learn to trust the feeling of home, to feel some degree of certainty that we belong, that we can stay awhile, and settle in.

And one more thing... besides being distracted and prone to extended bouts of laziness and chores-boredability: I do not know how to keep a home. Right about the time I have started to feel settled, or understand the rhythm of the home, and get a routine going, we have moved. All my life. The only time I have ever unpacked every box and bag, it lasted for two months before we packed and moved, again. Six years in one place is my record, and even there we spent two years doing repairs that required us to cook on the porch and shower outside the kitchen window... good times, but slightly disruptive! I know. Life is disruptive, but it cannot help that even now, I have this compulsive instinct to wonder if it might be time to pack up? Even now, I hesitate to paint walls. I still have a reluctance, a feeling of disconnect with this space, and my place in it.

Maintenance and upkeep... those are two concepts I am eager to get intimately familiar with! We have been here, in our Bird House, four years, and I have been feeling an undercurrent, a cognizant buzz, and I have to remind myself to settle down. I do not need to collect boxes, check real estate ads, stop at open houses. I need to hang pictures. I need to organize drawers, for the long term. I don't need to keep things ready to go. I need to let go of stuff that doesn't fit here, because here is where we live. However obvious some things are, some things still have to be learned.

Sort of talking to myself, here. I am in a learning moment.

I think I will hang on to my old scrapbook of domestic fantasies. I think I should add to it, too. It comforts me. It inspires me. It used to be a wish book, but now it also feels like a gratitude journal.

I did manage to pull out a lot of papers, recipes, clippings that we don't need. I tried to be honest and brutal, and not too sentimental. I put recipes into protective slipcovers, and back into the binder, with subject dividers. It looks very organized. Cheers for me! Now, I have my mom's Bourbon Pecan Cake recipe, with the stains and the notes, and the lifetime of memories and family stories that go with it, and it's tucked in with other favorite recipes, and memories. It feels good to have this done.

It feels good to look back and see where we've been. I am still learning. I am blessed to be still learning, wishing, and moving forward.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Bird House & Barn

... a Farm Report

It's time to check in on our Goat-Rabbit-Chicken Palace, that wonderful structure that's more than a coop, but not exactly a barn. Sometimes I call it Camp Whoop-Up. It's the open air enclosure we built to be secure from predators, so our goats, rabbits, and chickens can romp, scratch, peck, scamper, eat, head-butt, and sleep in perfect harmony. Okay, scratch, head-butt, sleep, and eat. The harmony and peace of mind is for us, the farmers.

The chicas, all of them, love their living quarters. They can free range in their private yard, around their cottage, and under the fence and into goat territory. They have fresh water, plenty of dust bath sites, and several roosting options. The three original, older girls are still the bossy chicas, even though the pullets tower over them. If any of the new girls couldn't stand to be henpecked, they'd only have to sit on Kamen, or Lil' Debbie, or Penny.

By the way, this hen is Koa, she's rosy colored. And I can point out Liberty, because she is the Cuckoo Maran with a tweaked beak. Lilikoi is the only Buff. Mako is the Ameracauna with a black, Alaskan Whaler's beard. As for the other Cuckoos and two Ameracaunas... your guess might be as good as mine. I know their names, of course, I just don't happen to know which name goes with which bird. Pele and Totoro are practically twins, and then the three Cuckoos might be stuck as Thompson, Thomson, and Tamsyn, forever.

Technically speaking, the cottage has plenty of roosting space for all the chicas, but the old guard are particular and intimidating and only a few of the new pullets dare to roost in the cottage.

The rest of the flock have always sought shelter in their transitional coop, the old rabbit hutch, so Geoff obliged them with a roost.

Do Malcolm and Inara Rabbit mind giving up their hutch? Not a bit. Once they had the chance to be free-roaming buns, they never looked back. They go all over the palace, and are happiest after all the hens are tucked in for the night, then they can enjoy peaceful romps and explores. They have a small pet shelter, beside the chicken cottage, where they can duck-in in damp weather, but most days they are stretched out, together and in the open.

Goat side, things get some wear and tear. They love to stand on the chairs, and they love to knock over the chairs. Look at the pine trunk we planted. They gnawed the bark off, almost to the top. When they aren't nibbling at the stump, they are using it as scratching post.

As for their cottage... well, they use it. They need it. There is nothing scarier to them than water coming down on them. No sprinkles. No raindrops. No splashes! They are not friends with water. Poor, funny goats. So, they have a shelter, and I even put in some curtains, to keep the rain from blowing in on them. And believe me, you will not find them anywhere else but their cottage, even in the lightest drizzle. So. You would think they would take care...

Take care not to damage their dear cottage? Take care not to leave themselves in dire peril?

Yes, this is the sad truth in our Goat-Rabbit-Chicken Palace update. Those goofy girls took out one slat, somehow. And, I guess, the rest must have been even easier than the first.


Repairs, soon. Strong, reinforced repairs.

The best news in our update is for clean-up. I have a smaller tined rake, which is handy for leaves, straw, and feathers, and I have a broom which is good for everything else, and I love my long handled dustpan. I can stay upright, sweeping and scooping. The problem came with separating the dirt from the everything else I was trying to get rid of. I was basically sweeping out the ground cover, a costly, heavy, waste. I needed something to filter out the dirt, while leaving the droppings, and larger debris, and I shared my dilemma, and an idea with, Geoff.

I described a low box with a screened bottom. It gets filled with the waste, we shake it, and voila! Compost in the tray, and good dirt back on the ground! He built me a gorgeous thing! TIG welded aluminum, with 1/4" square hardware cloth. It works like a charm! The yard is looking much better... well, except for that poor kicked-in cottage wall!

And now we have this amazing haul to add to the compost pile. It's not much to look at now, but just think of the spring garden!

I tried. Believe me. I took one picture after another of the goats, but they were too frisky and inquisitive to cooperate. This is the best I could do, at great risk to my skirt, too.

Ada Lovelace Goat! Don't eat my skirt!

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Twilight Time

Laughing, playing together when night is calling, but light still rules the day. Home is glowing, and we are in the garden tinkering, inventing, making, and sharing this twilight time.

We found bamboo on the street, and dragged it home. This was months ago, and we've been debating what to do with all the long, sturdy pieces. Some of the poles became a bean teepee. And the rest, with Alex's skill and imagination, have become a towering fort.

Bamboo. Duct tape. Hemp rope. A ladder. Friends. Everything it takes to make a towering fort.
Oh, and a big pillow.

Being a test pilot takes nerve, daring.
And a big pillow.

Siberian Hitch Knot. And Double Sheet Bend.

Mister Washburn Foo's countenance was transformed, and he became a regal beast, presiding over his dominion.

I suppose he felt confident and immortal high on his throne, but from where we stood he looked like an unwitting sacrifice to Kong.

Come down, dear Foo. He was most reluctant to give up his throne.

Then Alex added a platform, and a new ruler came forth to take the throne.

A sleeping bag for a royal robe.

I believe he has plans still developing, evolving.

I love the twilight time.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Five Good Things

Maybe I should have called this post Nine Foo Things. Mister Washburn Foo had a wonderful summer, and now he is enjoying his first fall... pumpkins, dry leaves, more quilts and coziness. He still has to observe most of the season's changes looking out the window. He is purrfully content on days like this, when he can skulk through the tall grass, get a closer look at the chickens, and sit with us in dappled light.

Good Things:

1. Midterms were last week, and now hopefully Max can enjoy a moment to catch his breath.

2. Delia was with us for a brief visit, and we had time to talk, make plans, and enjoy some funny moments.

3. Geoff built me a filter... a screened box that holds goat droppings, and sifts out the dirt.

4. William is really close to finishing his flintlock pistol, and it looks beautiful.

5. For breakfast we ate toast, from the bread I baked, with delicious, organic fruit preserves. I think toast and jelly is divinely good.

Please, share what's good with you~