Sunday, November 13, 2022

Still October

Just pretending it's still October, that I am still participating in the "Picture a Day' activity on Instagram, which I didn't actually keep up with. No need to explain, right? Okay. It's October and here are some moments we enjoyed on the fourth of October, when Ruth and I met Maria on campus.
This was barely Maria's second week at University. Now, she's finished mid-terms and is working on final projects. She's even enrolling for her second quarter. She is happy. Seriously. She likes her classes, and her roommates, and walking all over campus, finding new spaces, making her way around new environs and experiences. And, I should add: I am happy, too. There are still moments when I have a sudden start because she isn't in her room, or I imagine her walking to class, clear across campus, in the rain. Those are not easy moments. But, then again, I am terribly fortunate, too... we see eachother at least a couple of times during the week, and she comes home for the weekends. It's so lovely to have this balance between discovering independence and new opportunities, all while retaining our connections, our walks, talks, shared interests.

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

3 & 4 October Photo a Day

Morning Things... must include a cat sleeping on my legs or between my ankles, or across my knees. And sometimes it's two cats. And we know, us cat keepers, that the rules say "do not ruffle or disturb," and so morning things include one extricating oneself out from under cats.

Other morning things, in recent months include visits to the beach, walking and looking for something new. Looking for something new is the game I play to keep motivated and engaged. I can't lie... it was easier to walk all day, in Paris, Amsterdam, and I'd do the same in Madison, Wisconisn, or Portland, Oregon, easily and gladly in the Redwoods, Limekiln, the shores of Lake Michigan, around Whitefish Bay. Closer to home, I depend on my game, and I look for things to photograph, to keep me moving forward. On October 3rd, the morning thing was taking the trail from to top of Torrey Pine State Park down to the ocean.
Cozy is the prompt for today, and I thought of my quilts, and how happy I am that I learned to quilt. That I made these, and more, and have them to remind me of hours hand sewing, of colors, and babies, and picnics, and the way my mind contentedly reflects on loved ones, how I make prayers for their well being, and imagine days to come when we will be together. I get lost in dreams, wishes, hopes, and there must be something binding, something that gets held in the threads. I feel all the good and promising urges and yearnings, and they feel cozy, warm.
Another cozy offering... a birthday dinner celebrating Bambi. She and Alex prepared ratatouille, and garlic bread loaded with mushrooms, and for dessert there were orange cranberry scones. We are going to reinstate week-long birthday celebrations, so that Maria can join in the fun when she comes home.

Sunday, October 02, 2022

2 October Photo a Day :: Everyday Moments

Last week Maria asked for a refresher lesson on making corn tortillas, and so we made some together. Today we turned to making flour tortillas, which she has less experience with, and they are a bit harder. Oh, but they are so delicious.
Cooking, in a house with seven, is an everyday activity. We all cook, and share some delicious meals together. These flour tortillas were rolled up with the beans I made this week, and so that was lunch. Cooking... 2/31 for October's Photo a Day!

Saturday, October 01, 2022

October Photo a Day :: Hello

"I am so glad I live in a world with Octobers," Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables.

I'm sure I have shared this quote, often, before, but I would be remiss not sharing it today, the first day of October. And it even feels like the first day of a new month in early Autumm. It's not hot, and the marine layer is making it seem possible for rain to be in the forecast (it isn't.) It was cool enough that I was lured into cooking a full meal yesterday, and so dinner was hearty, flavorful, and I am probably even more excited that there are leftovers.

Well, look at this... apparently I am blogging, again. All credit to LaShawn Wiltz, on Insta, who is hosting a Photo a Day prompt for the month of October. I would also like to acknowledge Quiana, Harlem Lovebirds, for sharing the link in her stories. The theme is "Fall," and there are 31 prompts, and since I am running out of steam and motivation to keep making beach walk reels on Insta, it occured to me that this could be a low pressure renentry into posting. Low pressure. Low expectations. Super chill. Don't mind me. I am just trying to psyche myself up, here.

The first five prompts are... 1. Hello 2. Everyday Moments 3. Morning Things 4. Cozy 5. Current view

I am literally taking a deep breath, letting it out semi-dramatically. I am also waiting for photos to load from my phone onto the computer, and I am anxious about how long this is taking. My small, yet daunting, plans may be derailed before I can begin. Well, in the meantime, I can just keep writing.

I figure Hello could be a self portrait, something to introduce myself. So I brushed my hair and went out to sit with the goats and chickens. Why? I don't know. For some reason, probably vanity, I act on an impulse to believe that hairy, wild eyed goats can only help me look better. Or, perhaps cute, farmy animals will raise my appeal, give me some charisma, charm.

Why is the computer being so slow? No. Wait. Okay. Finally. Pictures are loading. Yes, I am blogging in real time, a meaningless point as I am not publishing in real time, and it will be a long time before reader traffic is coming by here, again, anyway Still, I am here and keeping it real, folks. It occurs to me, I may not remember how to get pictures exported and then inserted here. Sigh.

The self portraits? I don't like them. Somewhere, in my head, is a lengthy, likely self-depricating, essay on aging and invisibilty, but I think the bottom line is I am very uncomfortable with how I look. Ada wasn't really feeling it, either, and I couldn't get her to look cute next to me.

Hello! This is 1/31 for an October Photo a Day Challenge. I am Natalie. I love to take pictures, to paint, to embroider, and mentor in STEAM activities, like robotics, arts, and crafts. I love language(s), walking, swimming, cooking for lots of people, listening, and writing. I don't like having to choose a "favorite," because I have many favorite things, in many categories, and they are always changing. At the moment, I would consider "The Martian" my favorite book, and movie. I cry everytime I watch The Martian. I have learned to love riding a bicycle, and I am learning to love other things that once seemed improbable. I love following the planets, and observing constellations.

Guess what?

Sunday, July 03, 2022

Hmmm Okay Interesting

uh... this business of posting from the phone is harder than it looks. Like, much much harder Either i will skip doing this or I will muster a high tolerance for errors, disorganized pictures and some jankiness. Seriously... dont judge too harshly because formatting and the user interface, wow, so frustrating.

In an order that can only be described as "Not how I want them..." I present: Pictures from our trip, First Day! Maria and I are in Europe It's amazing. We have begun in France, we stayed near the airport the first two days based on Geoff's brilliant insistence that we begin slow and easy, to shake off jet lag before facing Paris. It was a masterful plan! More on that, later.

Paris is amazing: Big, loud, bustling, disorienting, beautiful, enchanting. I have a lot more impressions and details I look forward to sharing, and we've been here barely two days. And as compelling and wondrous as this city is, our first delight was meeting Gala, the grey lady of our Gare Lyon area apartment, with Amelie vibes. Say, "Salut, Gala, ça va ?"
She has the loudest purrbox motor and welcomed us heartily, affectionately. Ah, Paris, merci beacoup for such a comforting, sweet introction I think we are going to enjoy a wonderful time.

Saturday, July 02, 2022


Let's see if I can blog from the phone, while we are in France... testing testing...

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

A Few of Many Good Things

Well. This is ironic. I have anticipated the 20th anniversary of Chickenblog since about 2003, more or less, and with increasing interest and eagerness in recent years. And here I am making a last ditch effort to say something, anything, before the month is up. How did I let all of these many weeks pass since my last post, especially after enjoying keeping the blog on a regular(ish) schedule? I don't know. I feel like I've let myself down. Not in a big way, not so I am overthinking it... just low key. We have enjoyed some truly wonderful moments, occasions events, and happenings, and I would really like to put them down, for the sake of making records, and preserving memories. In the meantime I am going to see if I can discipline myself to a brief brief brief highlight post. Here goes!
We have newlyweds in the house! Alex and Bambi, our beautiful groom and bride, tied literal knots, surrounded by close friends and family, with a pink, full moon, flowers, and plentiful joy all around.
April 26 :: Sloane, Tarot, Bryce, Maria and Mushroom :: The Creative Writing Club held a second open mic, and it was even bigger and more heartwarming, compelling and good than the last one, which is saying a lot. Once again, or is it as always... young people restore my faith in the world, in what can be achieved and what we could reach if we just give them the mic, some space and light. These people have compassion and reason, and it's an honor and pleasure to hear their words.
April 30 :: Bella, Andrew, Leo, Carol, Michael, Grace :: Speaking of promising youth, Leo is an Eagle Scout! And Geoff and I had the honor of being recognized as Eagle Scout mentors. I shared about the Court of Honor in this Instagram Reel, and about the making of Leo's project in this second Reel. I really like making Reels. And I really love that we get to share such happy moments and rites of passage with dear friends.

It was always going to be a challenge, and times being what they are, this is a more phenomenal achievement than anticipated. There were a record number of applicants, and she had to wait longer than most to learn the news. Maria accepted admittance to the University of California at San Diego! Even when she believed she would need to make other plans, she remained devoted to her academics, and extracurriculars, including robotics, JNHS, writing, art, math, and government. I am not boasting, honest. I am being pretty low key. Anyway, we are so amazed at her dedication and steady, diligent love of learning, and so happy that she is happily anticipating being a Triton.

I miss this. I miss writing, and sharing pictures, and reading blogs. I have been away from my desk, busy, distracted, tackling one thing or another, some good, some not so good. You know. The world is spinning madly on, and we just do our best, right? I hope so. I miss this community, so I think I will make an effort to get back here, again, soon.
And Lily's Grannie, thank you. It was awfully nice of you to check in on me.

Bird House Notes: There was a wedding here this week, and I am dizzy with elation to announce that Alex and Bambi are husband and wife! We have been very busy, as you might imagine, and happily visiting family, and friends, arranging flowers, putting up tents, dusting off shelves, taking pictures, and embracing all of the joy in celebrating! When I finally get around to it, I imagine my next post will be brimming with details. I am especially eager to express my profound gratitude to everyone that helped us bring the day together, who traveled to attend, who sent me special texts and messages reminding me that everything would turn out beautifully! April 19, 2022

Friday, April 08, 2022

You Are Not Alone

Good Morning. Forecast says today's high temperature will be 90 degrees Fahrenheit, or 32.22 Celsius. It was at least the same, yesterday. Fortunately, it all cools down, again for the rest of the week. The hot days are uncomfortable, emotionally, as well as physically. I was about to link to the article, out this week, about the new IPCC report and how people are a factor in climate mitigation. Oddly, though the subject is urgent, pressing, I can't even bring myself to read more than the headline. News Flash: The Earth is in crisis and we, People, aren't doing enough to turn things around. It's too hot to rally. Also, I've alloted myself 25 minutes to sit in the cool, dark office, musing about any old thing, before I go back into the kitchen with the special spray bottle of UnGoo solution. Last night I tackled about 45% of the cabinets and both windows, unGooing all I can.
Pictures from my brother's BVI vacation keep loading into my computer. I guess that's something Whatsapp does? It's ten degrees cooler in Road Town, British Virgin Islands than here at the Bird House... in case you were wondering. What I have been wondering is... will we take a vacation this year?
I feel the draw, the wanderlust, somewhere in my being, to travel, to get away, but home still feels like the safest bet. I won't deny I am (have become moreso) increasingly cautious. Overcautious? It's not something I am enjoying... being worried, trying to think of every possible red flag for possible concerns. I think my over-thinking is a red flag. A warning sign that we should definitely take a vacation, switch things up, make an adventure, get away.

Oh, hey, the comments, on the last post, those were helpful. I was really touched by them. They felt like an open window, a stirring breeze. Thank you. I should take key words from those comments, and have them embroidered on pillows, framed and hanging around the home, so I can be reminded... of their wisdom, encouragement, and that I am lucky enought to know some caring, supportive people. Thank you! I have been re-reading your wise words, and kind, encouraging messages. I want to take them to heart, and be mindful.

Imagine these neatly stitched on soft linen, framed, and hung on the wall beside a shelf of fresh cut flowers. The shelf might be dusty, there could be a stash of laundry on the floor beneath, but take these words to heart, and...

Be Gentle With Yourself

You Are Not Alone

It's The Lovely People In Your Home That Family Are Coming to See

And this. This advice resonates with me. It's simple and I can appreciate that it would work for me, and it also pushes me to level up to match my thinking with my actions, by being consistent, diligent, even if in small increments. Laura Bray wrote, "For me, the trick to my homemaking has been to keep myself from doing too much at once. I put on a timer for one hour, two or three days a week, tackle one area, and when the timer goes off, I walk away. I just keep cycling through my home, focusing on one area each week, so I know I will get back to whatever I didn't finish. It's surprising how quickly things become "ship shape" this way." This! I want to adopt this habit, internalize this practice, and as I re-read it over and over, it is feeling like an affirmation, encouraging, wise, good.

Bird House Notes: My blogging timer is up, now I am going back to wiping down cabinets and degunking surfaces. And I am setting a timer for those activities, too. So, the question remains... what restful, distracting, amusing, engaging activity will I enjoy between window cleaning, and tackling laundry? April 8, 2022