Saturday, August 20, 2016

Grubbly Farms Giveaway and Savings :: Two Hundred Thirty Four

"Welcome home, cherished benefactor, lifelong caretaker and Chickenblogger! Thank you for ensuring that we were cared for in your brief absence, and now that you have returned, we will resume our relationship of trust and mutual respect," said no chicken of mine, ever! The sad truth is, they forget all about me, and our special friendship. They give me stink eye and run for the hills when I call them. They are wary, resentful, cocky, even. It's quite disconcerting. I try not to take offense. Wee brains, I remind myself, have little capacity for fond recollections, forgiveness, time-space concepts. It won't last, this re-entry period... they'll soon reconnect with me, and the great treats I bring, like watermelon rinds, peas, and soldier fly larvae!

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Now begins the sponsored portion of this post! I wouldn't share anything on Chickenblog that I don't personally use, support, or appreciate, just so you know. And I do support and appreciate Grubbly Farms and the innovative way they've developed a healthy treat for chickens. Right now you can click on this link to their website and order high protein snacks that your chickens will cluck for!

These are exactly what I need to win back the hearts and cooperation of my hens! Did you know that "scratch" and other corn treats need to be offered to chickens in moderation, and never as a staple of their regular diet? Corn can really slow their metabolism, especially in hot weather, and it puts on the fat... fat layers cannot be as easily observed in hens, but leads to health problems, disease. Chickens that are cooped-up need treats, things to scratch for, and it's good for them to be rich in protein, all natural, tasty! Because Grubbly Farms provides these healthy treats, while reducing pre-consumer use food waste, I feel good about sharing this product.

My hens come when I call, except when I've been away for a few days, then I need a little something to coax them with.

Here we go! A few handfuls of Grubblies, and now they remember... "Hey! It's that lady that feeds us, cleans our water dish, fights off predators, tells us funny jokes! We love her!" Yeah, I totally got this.

Congratulations to our winners, Michael R, in West Chicago, and Janece M., in San Diego! You each are going to be making chicken friends, very soon!

Everyone, you've still got a chance to bring your hens this great treat when you order with a 20% savings! Do it for your chickens! Do it for your friend's chickens! Do it for school chickens, and freedom, and America!

or by commenting on this post for a chance to win a one pound bag of Grubblies, shipped to your home! Actually, two people will be winning a free bag of Grubblies! Leave your comment, and I will put your name in the pail. Like us on FB, with a comment, and I will add your name, again!

Friday, August 19, 2016

First Days, Oregon

We stepped off the train in Albany, and straight into big hugs and welcome greetings. Seeing family was the main point of our whole venture north. We were even there in time to continue the celebration of Grandmother Eunice's ninety-fourth birthday.

My cousin and aunt keep a lovely home, open and inviting. And cool, too. It was very hot in Oregon that day!

This was our Picture a Day moment, because it perfectly captured what we were so eager to enjoy... time and love with Grandmother. That is great-grandmother to Maria.

The shawl I've been working on was finished on the train, and ready to be gifted to Grandma. We needed the ac, but she gets chilled. I hope she feels our continued warmth and love in that wrap, even while we are away.

Pictures. Smiles. More hugs. We squeezed in a lot of love before heading out for the next part of the day's traveling.

Delia, Maria, Eunice, Natalie~

Mom and Dad treated us to a luxury suite in Florence. On the drive over we watched the car thermometer drop from the high nineties to the sixties. We woke up rested and ready for breakfast, then a nice walk along the Suislaw River.

Florence is a pretty, coastal town. Even though I was well-rested, I think my head was still loopy-bumpy from the train tracks, and while we walked around, I thought, "Gee, it's so green here, and look at all these flowers! It looks just like Oregon."

Believe it or not, I do limit the number of pictures I take. If I actually followed my impulses I would have two-thousand one-hundred and twenty-six pictures of lichens and mosses, and more of everything else, too. (I just realized I keep putting the dashes in different places every time I spell out 2,126. My head must still be loopy-bumpy from the train tracks.

We found a beautifully stocked, and charming bookstore, Books 'n' Bears. In the beginning I was very disciplined about not buying too much to carry back. Somehow, we managed to leave without anything, but it wasn't easy.

Having recently viewed the entire series Gravity Falls, we were very tuned into all things mysterious and uniquely Oregonian and/or weird.

Mysterious and weird can also be cool and fun, like what we found at Funky Monkey Toys!

Remember, when I say the secret word, everyone scream real loud!

I think I would make a great tour guide. A weird, but cool tour guide.

Next we visited the fruit stand where Delia finds ground cherries. Hold on... let's find a link for these, because I still haven't tried them, and have only had them described to me by my mom. Aha! They're a nightshade family fruit! Physalis. (Interesting reading in this link. Thank you, Wikipedia.) Missed out, but the peaches were the best I've enjoyed since childhood. Seriously, amazing.

The nectarines were delicious, too.

After enjoying Florence, we turned south, and made our way along the beautiful Oregon Coast, passed sand dunes, over bridges and rivers. The ride is gorgeous.

These were our great tour guides, Ron and Delia. When we got to Coos Bay, we stopped for lunch, then visited Pony Village Mall, found new flip-flops for Maria, and yarn for me, walked around, saw a movie, and made plans for the second, full day. I couldn't believe all we'd already done, just that first day!

We were home in time to care for Mom's garden. Ron gets concerned about her garden. The wind knocks over pots, and everything gets thirsty. Keeping her plants on the porch has been a big success, because everything is safer from their huge forest slugs, and deer. This is one of the ground cherry plants she's successfully grown from seed. Today she updated me on their progress... growing bigger! Someday, I will get to try them.

My favorite FB posts of my mother's are of her garden. She gives it a great deal of care, and it reminds me of the wonderful gardens she kept when we were children.

I love seeing flowers, trees, all new varieties... new to me! Look at all these flowers! It looks just like Oregon!

I think he's willing that tomato plant to not tip over, again!

We were too early for ground cherries, but just in time for blackberries!

She even managed to fill the bowl. I didn't help. I ate every berry I picked. No regrets.

Those bramble thorns are wicked, but it promotes keeping a nice, careful and calming rhythm, perfect for restful days in the Oregon woods. Maria and I were comparing notes on how we were feeling... it took a while to lose the feeling that the ground was still moving beneath our feet.

Last of the foxglove. It's restorative to the mind and soul to be where there are seasons, where it's not so subtle that changes are happening... summer waning, fall beginning to appear. The hints make gentle reminders to enjoy the moment, and be prepared for the next.

Over the river and through the woods, that's how we get to Grandma and Grandpa's house.

And in town, we saw the paintings along the boardwalk for the Art Show. This was my favorite. Bold, sincere, expressive, and appealing. Excellent use of space and color, too.

Up and down, north and south, I love traveling along the 101. It's a long ribbon of familiar places, connected.

Home Improvements :: Two Hundred Thirty Three

The screen door arrived! It's unfinished wood. The front door isn't framed for a screen, so Geoff is modifying it, building the frame up and out. Geoff and Alex think the wood will look good stained... something in a dark oak tone. Someday, we will finish painting the rest of the house the deep blue we settled on, and I agree a warm, deep orange tone, will look good, welcoming. Just imagining the cool breeze coming through our front door soothes my mind with relief.

Home... it's good to be home. Our projects, our favorite corners, and favorite tools, our pets, trees, collections, stashes, and familiar spaces, even the unfinished chores, and nagging things, are alright. It's our own, and I know the blessing of that kind of peace and comfort.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

North Bound, Our Oregon Adventure

After making our way to Oregon, and home again, by train, I feel like Maria and I have enjoyed a dream come true kind of adventure, and if I could add one more sweet component it would be to have every bit of our travels written up in a scrap book, with all the pictures, and metro stubs, pressed leaves, and a scratch and sniff page with blackberry, and cedar fragrances. Is that too much to ask for? Hopefully, I can at least write a few posts, capturing highlights of what we did, where we were, with loads of edited pictures. Am I wishing for a brain-computer interface, where I can upload the stories I've been holding on to in hopes of retaining all of the goodness we've enjoyed? That sounds really creepy, but also like something that would be irresistibly convenient!

Humph... my weird brain has just made me debate whether to keep my "deep" thoughts to myself, and just post pretty pictures with cute captions, or to continue in the same vein of being my own naturally odd self.

Never mind. I will just begin at the beginning.

Union Station, Los Angeles

Maria didn't know our trip to Oregon was going to be by train until we were almost at the station. Her brothers thought it would make a good surprise and they were right: It was a very good surprise. And traveling by train was a very good idea, versus driving the twenty plus hours to the Oregon Coast.

All aboard the Coast Starlight, with a roomette all the way to Albany, Oregon! It really was first class travel. We fell asleep after Oakland, and woke up in Shasta! I also woke up in Martinez, Davis, Sacramento, and Redding, but that's another issue! The great thing about insomnia on a train is that you can gaze out on the world you are passing by, see stars, and savor the thought that you'll have most of the next day to enjoy cat naps.

Before our chairs were converted into a top bunk and bed, we walked through the coaches, visited the lounge car, and theater, ate lunch, and dinner, crafted in tiny journals, read, embroidered, talked, met new people, and looked for deer in the hills around central California.

We were never bored. Not for long. As soon as one thing felt a bit tired, we moved on to something else, or turned around for a new point of view.

Even on a full train, we had no problem finding room all to ourselves.

Perhaps a theater on a train is passé, what with everyone carrying smart phones and pads. But I think it would have been nice to watch an old movie, or two.

We looked forward to the community seating and meeting new friends with our meals. It's nice to understand the geography and be familiar with the schedule. I made a point of reserving our meal times when I knew we would be having great views.

Our lunch was served in time for reaching the coast, and we rode through Santa Barbara and into Vandenberg, along the beaches, while we dined. It was beautiful.

Sometimes I would feel keenly disappointed because I knew I wasn't going to get "perfect" pictures, not traveling at those speeds, not through dusty and reflective windows. But I never could resist trying, and so I have dozens of poorly focused, smudgy, glare-marred pictures with reflections of people or windows, or bits from inside the coaches... imperfections, I thought. But I feel differently, now. Now I want a camera app. I'll call it Train Filter and it will add all the charm, warmth, and grime of those passing scenes. I love our views from the windows of our Coast Starlight ride.

Some stops are long enough for stepping off and having a walk around the platform, like this time in San Luis Obispo. We enjoyed feeling the local weather, checking for Poké stops, taking in the fresh air. Plus... it's really fun to hear the double train whistle and hear the conductor say, "All aboard!"

Our SLO selfie.

Train enthusiasts know this section of the route for it's long, deep curves where you can see both ends of the train at once. We are near La Cuesta Pass and the Old Stage Coach Road. Next stop, Paso Robles! I can still hear the announcements in my head.

The fertile Salinas Valley, and further west the Santa Lucia Range, where smoke from the Soberanes Fire continues to burn through Big Sur. It makes for a beautiful but sobering sunset.

Train legs. It's fun to become familiar with the arrangement of the cars, to get confident about staying steady through the constant motions of the train. Maria came to love being in the lead, opening the doors, balancing her steps from coach to coach.

The next morning our view was all new and wondrous! And here's a funny bit... we watched these two peaks move in and out of our view, and it was fabulous. Snuggled in the bed, still drowsy and cozy, and absolutely breathtaking views to marvel at, and we felt so special, so lucky. We were lucky, of course, but we kept talking about Mt Shasta, and the good fortune we had to have our room facing this fantastic sight! After all, we reasoned, we might have rooms across the aisle, where we would have missed the view of Mt Shasta, maybe seeing only a logging road, or scrapyards, or any other typical train sights. I even posted to FB: "Our Mt Shasta view... blah blah blah!" But guess what? The attendant came by and asked,

"Did you get to see Mt Shasta?"

"You mean, there?" we pointed, happily certain of our good fortune and geography knowledge.

Liliana crouched down, peered through our window, and said, "Oh, no. That's not Shasta. We passed Shasta early this morning." She wasn't sure which peaks these were, and they seemed were not all too significant.

Maria and I enjoyed laughing at ourselves.

But, I still think we were lucky. Even mislabeled, this was a spectacular sight. Do you recognize it?

Then, we were having our breakfast and riding through Klamath Falls, and by the Lake. I am pretty sure, anyway. I am quite certain we were in Oregon.

And by the time we were going through the Cascades, seeing blackberries, crossing rivers, creeks, and meadows, Maria and I were absolutely certain of our very good fortune.

Even after thirty hours, and a two hour delay, we were giddy and enthused, happy to be arriving in Albany, and eager to see what else our adventure had in store for us...