Monday, March 02, 2020

William's Birthday

Happy Birthday, William.

It's a funny thing about writing, expressing myself... I could write 10,000 words to describe William, and 10,000 more to express my love, my thankfulness for knowing him, for having the honor of being his mother. He is our first child, now a man, always my baby, someone I look up to, and everyday he gives me reason to feel the wonder of chance, of breath, and inspiration. I have been fortunate.

He didn't want to go out for dinner, or have company over. He wanted broccoli soup... the recipe we call confetti soup, and brownies with fruit for dessert. He wanted to go somewhere, and we chose Torrey Pines Reserve, a gorgeous hike to the edge of the bluff, and then back home to cook, and watch a few episodes of Dark Crystal. I told him about messages being posted on his FB wall, and he was surprised, touched. (He rarely looks at FB.) Max baked the vegan brownies, and we all devoured the fresh strawberries. Geoff chose William's gift...a ginormous Swiss Army knife, and we had a good time admiring all the features, figuring out some of the less familiar tools. It was a good day. It was a family day, and we laughed, and talked about things that interest us, like projects, art, making. We cooked together, and helped each other, and... I could write 100,000, 000 words about how much I love celebrating each of our children, Geoff, our lives, the happy chance that we are here.

Monday, December 16, 2019

A Farm Report

Chickenblog used to have regular farm reports. There have been lots of them, going way back.

Oh... I got lost in the archives! I can't believe our goats are eight years old, that Chickenblog is almost 18 years old!


Where was I?

Farm Report.


We have six hens. I am sorry to share that earlier this fall we lost our darling Mako Mori Hen. She was a favorite of mine, tame, dear. I miss her. Our hens, also known as the chicas, include Liberty, she is a cuckoo maran, and her sister, Emma Thompson, both chiquitas. We have Trillian and Pele, two Ameraucanas, that are still laying pale blue-green eggs. Like Liberty, they will be seven years old this summer. We also have the two silver-laced wyandottes, Pepper and Pippi. Thankfully, those two have settled down, because they were not the friendliest ladies, and would readily peck toes and bare legs.

And we have the goats, too, of course. Ada Lovelace Goat, the caramel and white goat that was born February 25, 2012. And we have Tasha Tudor goat, and she just turned eight years old on February 21st. They are as darling as ever, still make me laugh, and shake my ahead in amused disbelief.

So, it's two goats, and six hens, and they live all together, outside, in Camp Whoop-Up.

In the house, are the cats... three of them, now! And I feel certain that they are going to become good cat friends, and companions. Cairo. Feynman. Sakamoto.

Still haven't heard him meow, but he trills, and purrs, and chirps.

The kittens love food. Like, really love it. Cairo is casual and almost indifferent about food, so we are a bit taken aback by the intent pursuit of vittles the kittens display. And Sakamoto absolutely meows, and loudly, plaintively. It's really cute and pulls the heartstrings!

We keep catching looks, expressions from Cairo, of dismay, resignation, disappointment, bewilderment. This is a look of mild confusion, as Cairo tries to puzzle out what is in my chair.

Sunday, December 15, 2019


These things start innocently enough, right?

Of course, walking into a pet store with a big banner that says "Cat Adoption Event," comes with some degree of awareness. But honest! We were just going to visit cats, just visit. Cats. Nothing else. Perfectly innocent activity.

Oh, hello!

They're brothers. They need a home! We did visit cats, and kittens, and these two were engaging, and docile, and cute, and Alex and I were done for! Next thing I know... I am turning in applications. From here we went to the thrift store, where I spent 13 dollars on 2 cat carriers, and four food dishes, and a book. I think the cat carriers being there was a sign! These kitties are coming home with us!

Cairo has had no Foo in a sad long time, and we all feel the empty space that Chango once filled.

Our applications were accepted and the very next night we came home with two kitty brothers, that were very quickly named in the car ride home!

Introducing... Sakamoto Nekko Chan... Gigi, Professor, Saki. This name comes, in part, from the black kitty in Nichijou, a comedy manga series. Sakamoto belongs to an eight year old scientist, Professor.

Introducing... R.P. Feynman... Professor, Pusheen, Fine Man, Mister. This name is for the physicist Richard Feynman. It comes in handy, with a cat, to exclaim, "Surely, You're Joking Mr. Feynman!"

Tori and her mom met us at the pet store, and so did Alex and Bambi. Geoff got a big surprise when we came home, where we were joined by Armand, then Janece, Paul, and Amira! Have two kitties ever enjoyed such a welcome home?

They actually love the carriers, and pop in and out of them.

We kept Cairo upstairs, but not for long. They had a brief and wary first meeting, and everyone agreed that it felt like a very good first meeting between new kitties.

Good morning, kitten.

It's a kitten honeymoon! A happy weekend of getting acquainted.

An early discovery was Sakamoto's very compulsive interest in Feynman's toes! Look at Feynman's expression! This nursing habit has obviously been going on for some time. Poor kitties!

And just look at Feynman's toes!

Things we learned the first day with the kitties...

1. Sakamoto misses nursing, and is comforted by sucking on his brother's toes.

2. Feynman has a resigned tolerance for his brother's needs.

3. Feynman is drowsy and not vocal.

4. Sakamoto is shy, and timid, but noisy.

5. Feynman is bold, an explorer, a scout.

We did not protract the introduction process between Cairo and the kitties. We figured over the weekend, with all of us home, we could supervise their interactions and intervene when necessary. None of us have ever witnessed an easier, smoother blending of cat families! The first day they kind of scooted around each other, and made a couple of vocal objections. By the end of the day, there were tentative gestures of play, and the next day they were making new games, and sharing romps. I am sure that Cairo is not 100% on board... he retreats to the master bedroom and the bed that the kitties can't scale, yet. Still, it's mostly calm, and happy, and we are having lots of fun watching, caring for, and loving kittens!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Autumn Days

Decemeber 5

Maria's tree is our kitchen tree, and stands adored and bedecked in the middle of our kitchen, on the countertop. It's almost majestical, but leaning toward whimsical. Whimjestic? We have a nutcracker... I remember when the boys thought those looked appealing and good. I'd never appreciated them, but we have seen a number of Nutcracker productions, going way back, and the nutcrackers have grown on me. The chocolate chipmunk was one of the earliest ornaments acquired after marriage. Why a chipmunk on a cookie? I don't have to overthink this, because I already know: I have a fondness for small mammals in scarves, sipping cocoa, living in hollowed trunks with mantles and stockings. The handmade chicken, with the beady eye, came from Calamity Kim, and I am happy to think of her as I drink my morning tea. I think the cat and fish was a gift from Tutu Ruth. I wonder if she can confirm? See? Here is another reason to keep blogging, because it helps me keep some facts in order. The tea and cookies, with books... I don't need confirmation: It was Grandmother Eunice's ornament. I picture it on her nightstand, and seeing it every time I walk through the kitchen, cook... my heart fills full of emotion, recollection, longing, and finally soft, gentle gratitude, because I love her, because she made me want to be a better person, and she made me happy. I miss her. I miss her terribly.

My heart is full of emotion, and my eyes are full of tears.

I need levity... and there's Cairo, my studio assistant. And also, me, dressed like a true California woman. On my way to physical therapy, it occurs to me that it's cold out, so I keep my cozy slippers on.

Fortunately, except when it comes to tying ribbons, Cairo is a very good studio cat. He doesn't interfere with any of the printing, or stamp carving. He will try to drink from the water jar when I paint, so I am careful of that. But he does not bat the brush, or walk across canvases. He has yet to do any damage to any of my art, but keeps me company, and I like that very much.

Speaking of art, Geoff and William have been collaborating on these art blocks. The two wood blocks of a woman's face were started with some photogrammetry William did... he took the photographs of a large garden sculpture and rendered them into... ha! I am not going to try and recall all of the magic that went into it. Just know that William can take pictures to reproduce objects for 3D printing, metal casting, and milling. The center block is also a photographic capture, this time of Maria. Geoff used ScandyPro, OpenScad, and Fusion 360 to create her likeness in an art block carved by our CnC mill, Frankenrouter. The eye, that moves, is an Adafruit HalloWing board. And the three art blocks below, are all running movies... The Thief of Bagdad, The Wizard of Oz, and an industrial short. These Block Art pieces are redwood cubes hallowed out on Elsa, our CnC mill. Inside each is a Raspberry Pi Zero W, a liquid crystal display, a lithium ion battery, and an Adafruit Power Boost 1000c. The "monitor" is a glass lens. Geoff designed and 3D printed the backing to hold everything in place and magnets are epoxied on the back so we can display it on a steel wall.

Goodness. That was a lot.

Am I blogging too much?

Besides art classes, and Christmas trees, making products for our Etsy shop, and all of the regular school and Bird House chores, my thoughts have been very much preoccupied with December 6... and the accident that was a year ago. "Accident," God, I hate that word. It was no accident. And still, a year later, I am in the middle of the mess created by the choices of a woman who drank at an office party (days after the end of her probation for DUI) and then drove while intoxicated. She was way over the legal limit. She didn't turn on her headlights. She didn't stop at the sign... she drove straight into my van from a right turn, so I had no chance of seeing her coming. There were no skid marks to show she ever braked. Still dealing with it, still a restitution hearing to complete, still the whole civil case to go through.

In the van, when I came to, my face hurt and I felt so scared, and when I realized what had happened, I became profoundly sad and distressed... and I have not shaken that grief, the hurtful sense of knowing that physical healing might be nothing compared with trying to rise above the insurance-paperwork-courtroom hassles. How did I know? I started crying, sputtering through an injured mouth, "No, no, no, no," because I could picture all the times ahead of me when paperwork and policies, bureaucracy and confusion would rule my days. Shit. One year later... I still deal with pain, memory loss, nightmares, and anxiety. One year later and there is still paper work, hearings, and legal wrangling. One year later and I still feel sad, and probably I should admit: Disappointment... in myself, for not being braver, more resilient, for not 'getting over it.' Shit.

Suddenly that anecdote from Fred Rogers popped into my head, and I know it was meant as supportive words for young children, but I find some light in the idea that in troubling times we should "look for the helpers." I have been troubled and scared for a year, but I have also seen helpers, friends, and family, who have stood by me, checked in, held me up, comforted me, offered distractions and encouragement, shown me patience, and new paths.

Kind and generous Janece and her beautiful art.

Daring and thoughtful Leanne and her beautiful art.

I wish I had more pictures... I truly adore my classmates and all of the beautiful art created.

December 6

A year ago, the morning after the collision, Alex brought me to the last class of watercolor painting. I was too distraught at the idea that I might miss this special class, so dazed and confused, I went, and I never would have got through it without Alex. It was probably stupid of me to go... I had a concussion and everything was beginning to hurt; and none of that matters to me as much as how much it would have hurt to not complete my class, see my peers' finished paintings, see my accomplishments through to the end. My teacher, Kris, hugged me and spoke wise and tender words into my ear, and that was a balm on my psyche.

And today, December 6, 2019, Alex brought me to the last day of watercolor class, again, and I saw my friends and their art, and reflected on the good I have enjoyed in this class, how my art has evolved, how, in spite of the challenges, I am here, and enjoying wonderful opportunities and exchanges. I love my classmates, and our journey, the long day we spend together, learning, laughing, sharing our ideas and experiences. I love making progress, facing challenges, and being in the company of good people, fun people. I feel so fortunate to have had this time in school, and to be here, again, healing, overcoming, eager to keep moving forward.

Later, I went to MNO, which I missed last year, and that was emotionally a hard thing to do. I had thought it would be a chance to speak up about my year, about the hardships I've struggled to deal with. In the end, I was quiet, as usual. Somewhere, in my head, are thoughts on finding my voice... not in a blog, but in person, face to face, and I think I should find a way to let those words out.

December 7

Alex joined me for my second art class, where Tori and I have been practicing life-drawing techniques. Oh, my goodness, this class has been hard! Hard, and worthwhile.

I love Geoff and Cairo, and their face time engagement.

Oh, yeah, this post is long. And it's taking me forever to write. I still struggle with composing my thoughts and getting them written or spoken aloud. The typos! OHmyGOats. And then my neck and shoulder lock up. Good grief.

Should I just take a break? Yes. A break. Then hopefully, I can come back later and write little notes about why the rest of these pictures are here, how they make me feel or what I recall about them. Mostly, I see they are just moments of happiness in our Autumn days, and maybe it's enough to say just that...

December 9

December 10