Saturday, April 28, 2007

I am apologizing to everyone that voted for me at the Blogger's Choice Award. I never should have asked people to register their names and personal information, because 1. It is a pain and 2. I am thinking it isn't such a legitimate game after all. I'm not saying they are purely disreputable, but I suspect at the very least they are purely commercial. I never believed that I was in the running for something truly prestigious, but I thought it was harmless fun that would give me an opportunity to play with the big kids, the beautiful people. Now I've read "A Dingo's got my Barbie," one guy's impression of the whole affair, and I am starting to think BCA is kind of bogus.

It would have to dawn on me in the middle of the night and keep me from falling back to sleep. I was especially convinced that the whole award program is one giant ad and promotion, when I considered that two complete strangers in India voted for me and hundreds of other blogs; like it's a full time job for them to sit down and randomly vote... hey! It is their job, and I think they are *farmers* for the award creator and sponsors.

I feel like such a slut, speaking metaphorically of course. I feel like a cheap date, drunk on the promise of recognition and exposure. I feel like Dorothy, at the end of Wizard of Oz...

Auntie Em: "What have you learned Dorothy?"

Me: "Oh, golly, I've learned that blogging is like high school and only a handful of people will ever be truly popular, and gee whiz, trying to buy your way in to fame and making a spectacle of yourself will only keep you up at night feeling naïve and lame. And, there's no place like anonymity, there's no place like anonymity, there's no place like anonymity... "

Look away. I'm so ashamed.

Okay, come back.
I want to share some more links with you. I'm done promoting myself, but I keep finding good stuff other places so I will promote: more art and goodness at "Joy Bucket." I am going to clear a place for my sewing machine and start making these darling flower, button things, which Maria will no doubt say are "cute, cute."

I also was really impressed with the talent and designs I found at "Ruby Crowned Kinglette. I love the blackbird.

One last crafty blog, and I am too sleepy/tired to even remember what I specifically saw at "Molly Chicken," but there's that word "chicken," so it must be good.

Finally, a Blog of Note, and an antidote, if I have overexposed you to knitting, quilting and chickens, I offer you "Female Science Professor," which is funny, intelligent, and less crafty than my usual offerings.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Mom, this is where your animals clips have gone... Maria likes to use them as accessories. She names each one as we clip them on her dress or shirt. She'll wear them all day. She loves them, thank you.

"Cow, cow. Piggy. Duck. Doggie. Cow."

On my way out to grocery shop I grabbed my insulated bag, and found Maria had been there first. She has a way of getting her stuff distributed throughout the house. Inside the zipped-up bag were her two babies, her bead necklace, a pen and some Lego bricks belonging to her brothers.

I think they look shocked.

Maria was delighted to be reunited with her twins and jewels. (Notice our *view.* Now you know why we are A.K.A. Garage Mahal.)

It's the Weekend, so let's play:

"American Science and Surplus"
looks like so much fun.
We like visiting a place called Industrial Liquidators, but this place is so much easier to browse, since it is all online.

I found the link to this artsy-geeky shopping mecca at another blog I have been visiting... You probably think I would visit any blog with the word "chicken" in the name, and you might be right. "Angry Chicken" has been a fun blog to visit for more crafts and inspiration.

I seem to find a lot of interesting links when I am at "Angry Chicken," like the website "Crib Candy," which I think is a collection of stuff for the home. Okay, so I need to look in to it a bit further, but it was certainly intriguing at first glance. For example, where else are you going to find the tools and resources to turn rug stains into a giant carpet bunny?

After checking out all the inspired gizmos and home enhancers at "Crib Candy," I went back to see what else "Angry Chicken" likes and I found a blogger that asks "How About Orange...?" I smile and think of my sister-in-law, Alison, when I come across anyone that loves orange.

There is fun and creative stuff happening at "What About Orange...," like her excellent link to free clip art from Dover Publications. I think it's Dover that publishes those wonderful little dollar books with stickers, tattoos, puzzles, mazes, stories and art. I love those.

Now go play!

In the Shot

I've been taking photographs for the yearbook. It started casually enough. I am hardly ever without my camera. Now I am earnestly pursuing individual shots of each student in Max's class, and one of each student with his/her mom/dad, and also all middle school students. Max knows I am taking lots of pictures. He and Alex wait for me after school while I pose moms and kids, or capture the dance class in action. I can think of just a few more students I need pictures of... better lighting, a more flattering angle, but for the most part I have at least three pictures of everyone. Almost. Yesterday Max tapped my shoulder and whispered at the side of my head, the way he does.

He said, "Um, Mom? What about you and me?"
I turned to him, looking confused, saying, "What?"
He said, "Our picture Mom. What about a picture of you and me?"

Me and Max.

That's how it goes, I guess. The camera is available to everyone, but it usually winds up in my hands. There are not many pictures of me. You might not know I was in attendance at the Easter brunch, or our last camping trip. You would never guess that I make things, build stuff, or show up to help with projects. There are pictures of me; the ones I take, the close-ups, with my right arm extended and arced.

There are a lot of articles about the dynamics of photographs; what body language, expressions etc... say about individuals. Is there a gap between two people posing together, does someone avoid looking at the camera? People study the psychology of what a photograph reveals and conceals. Interesting stuff.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Books, Roses, TeaTime

Last night Max read to me. He's anxious to get his final book report finished. He has to read an award winning book, and he chose "The Relatives Came," by Cynthia Rylant. It's long been a favorite book of mine. It's full of family goodness, messes and all. To have my son read it to me makes it more treasured than ever.

After Max read, I strolled around the yard looking for things to point my camera at, like the bougainvillea that grows in the entry area of Cramalot.

Though the flowers are lovely, bold and vibrant, I do not think it a very good plant to have at the front door. It grows long thorns and scratchy branches that reach out to scrape us when we walk up to the house. The red petals are actually leaves and the small yellow buds are the flower.

These little roses grow on two climbing shrubs in the backyard. They are Cecil Brunners. I planted these all over the Chica's henhouse at El Rancho. They generously bloom with a profusion of tiny, pink and fragrant buds.

Today I let my camera snap a few more pictures. I am still learning how to use it, and I've misplaced the owner's manual, so it's going even slower than before. Maria likes a little milk with her snack.

She likes local favorites Milton's Crackers. They are whole grain, free of trans fats, and they taste good.

I like how slowly and delicately she eats. It's lovely having lunch or snack with her.

Crackers, apples, pickles, cheese, grapes, strawberries, cashews? Yes.
Tuna? No.


"Yes, please," says Benjamin.

"I love tuna."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens

I have a chicken coop, and on top of the coop I set my chicas, some roosters and a farmer too. I try to keep my chicken obsession corralled and contained. I don't plan on having a chicken bedspread, next to my chicken lamp, in the room with chicken wallpaper. Though I must confess, I have daydreamed about sewing a chicken inspired quilt.

I didn't have any serious crushes or obsessions growing up. For a time I feigned a Clark Gable infatuation. In junior high, several girlfriends expressed strong feelings that I was missing out by not having a celebrity crush. Jill had personal letters from both Robby Benson, and his mother, and I could never forget her unwavering devotion to Tom Petty... it was sweet, kind of enviable to be so steadfast and certain. Kristy liked someone, Eddie Van Halen, maybe? The point was to have posters and stickers and to get swoony at the mere mention of the obsession's name. I did happen to like old movies, so I pulled Clark Gable out of my hat and assured my concerned girlfriends that I did in fact ", totally like Clark Gable, 'cause he was so totally like hot. You know?" They gave me two super-sized posters of him for my 15th birthday. So for about 2 years I lived with a 40 something year old man looming over my bed... the ears, the mustache, the cigar... it was a bit much. Actually, he did have something of a rooster look, kind of cocky. Years later I read that he and his adored wife, Carole Lombard, tried their hands at chicken farming. I like that.

Geoff knows that I get a little bit swoony about chickens. He liked our three chicas too. He thinks they were cool.

The days are getting a bit Summery, a little warmer, a little longer. It makes it difficult to concentrate, to get to school on time. Sometimes I wake up and think, "This is too nice a day. There can't be school on a day like this." But there is school, until mid-June. There is testing too. Alex and Max are taking standardized tests all this week and part of next. I've been making them extra spectacular breakfasts. Today is dance day with Maria, and I have to get to a yearbook meeting in a few minutes. William finished reading "The Long Walk." Geoff is at the office, hoping everything holds and trying to look busy. I think he reads a lot. He says he's busy stuffing my ballot. I always wonder what you are up to. Drop us a line, share your obsessions. Is it Summery where you are?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Umm... this is not a shameless demand for more attention. These vote icons are provided by special request, for Toby's mom's cousin:

My strongest category:

Whoa! Hey, I thought I was nominated here, but maybe not.

I am so worthy here... tee hee. I fed them 3 meals today, and they are all present and accounted for.

This is a tight race, with many worthy competitors. It would be understandable, if it's close.

Oh... did I forget to nominate myself? If you don't know me already... I am giggling, and if I laugh real hard I am prone to snorting, which is not hot.

Thank you.
Geek Cats

There is always something new and interesting to be found at Chicken Spaghetti, where Susan writes about children's books and shares lots of links to book reviews and articles. She recently posted a link to a book that I am very curious to read. It's called "All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome." Some of you may remember that Asperger Syndrome is something we are quite familiar with here at Cramalot. We have had a lot of success with our home brand of therapy and patience, and a sympathetic approach to dealing with what we think of more as "Geek Syndrome." I've shared how we first came to realize we had something unique to deal with, and trust me there have been more chapters I could add since then. Anyways, I am intrigued to read, even a humorous, view on Aspergers and cats. It might be interesting to speculate from my own experiences how cats are *Asprecocious.*

Cats like quiet, routine, stability. Cats have perceptive senses, but sometimes a seeming lack of sensitivity. Cats do not want too much noise, or wind or annoying interruptions. Cats can focus intently for hours. Cats can ignore you and seem indifferent. Cats do not make distinctions between themselves and authoritative people. Cats are particular about food, sleeping places, water, when they can be scratched and when they cannot be scratched. Cats are intelligent, but they make their point on their own terms... Ya, I think I can see a basis for a book here.

"American Behavior Guide"

or "Sad Stuff I Notice"

Stay on the Phone
No matter where you are or who you are with, stay on the phone. Talk loudly on the phone, so that every stranger around you knows that you are "seeking treatment," "have found an ointment" or "know the best place for those." Be emphatic and loud while talking in crowded public places, so that we all know perfectly well that your neighbor is "So, stupid," or "Such a beotch." Do not make eye contact with anyone in your vicinity or make any indication that you are aware that you are in the presence of real, live, breathing humans. Particularly, if you are possibly standing or strolling in areas provided for public access, be sure that your phone call is so absorbing that you cannot possibly step aside to accommodate aforementioned humans; make them wait or squeeze around you. Also, should you be using a well hidden Blue Tooth and should anyone present, but outside of your personal phoning realm, mistake your "hello" for a friendly greeting directed at them, curse them and cast aspersions at them with your eyes. If you wear big, dark, designer sunglasses, then sneer and turn haltingly.

All of the above of course applies to drive time too. Dial while changing lanes. Do not signal. Signaling shows you care. If you've called everyone you can think of and still have miles to go before you are at the mall, salon, spa, daycare, then perhaps this is the opportune time to apply make-up and curl your eyelashes. Be sure to drive 6-10 miles per hour slower than traffic, so people know you are skilled and adept at multitasking.

In parking lots, whether or not you are on the phone, do not drive slowly, cautiously, considerately or within reason. Do not let anyone, under any circumstance back out of their space, unless you want it. If you see someone slowly, carefully easing out of their parking space, speed up and if necessary honk at them. Leer in disgust as you screech around them. Pedestrians are scum superfluous obstacles an inconvenience. If they must cross, whether at school or the mall, church, the post office, then slow down sufficiently enough for them to scurry out of your way and wave them through. Do not come to a complete stop and make kind gestures or smile to indicate you are patient or caring. All of this is especially crucial at school and your place of worship, because no one should come between you and your God, or your precious child.

Wear big, dark, designer sunglasses and any other merchandise you can afford, or charge, with name brands, logos and other corporate billboards printed boldly and proudly. These are most effective when displayed on your chest, and/or ass, but can also appear down your shirt sleeves, around your shoes and all over your handbag. Designers or corporations need your support, and wearing "Juicy" across your butt is proof that 1. Corporate America loves and supports you and 2. You have amazing taste, incredible fashion sense, brilliant reasoning skills, and more money/credit than pedestrians and other peons. Oh, and the big, dark, designer sunglasses will help you disassociate, and prevent you from having to exchange nonverbal communication. Just let them read your butt.

That is all for today. Plug in your iPod, dial your cell phone, adjust your thong, and get out there. The world is a big beautiful place just waiting for you to explore and appreciate.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Almost A Winner

Has anyone seen my pinking shears? I remember having them in 2003, and if I could time travel I would easily retrieve them from the drawer on the shelf next to my sewing table in the room in the south eastern side of the house, where outside, on the opposite wall I planted gardenias. With my pinking shears I could make the decorative banner I saw in a catalogue 4 years ago, and then I would be happy.

Does anyone know why, when there are infinite chores and responsibilities to tackle, all I can do is aspire to make doll quilts, practice knitting, and make fake cruise itineraries?

The avocado festival was huge. It was a sprawling sea of humanity and funnel cake. I skipped the funnel cake. We sat down and listened to an entrepreneur talk about his new avocado oil business. He and his wife are about 4 years into a business of taking oil from the avocados they grow, and he described the process and challenges, then gave out samples. The moderator insisted that the taste is unique and unlike olive oil, and I found it to be enough like olive oil that I wouldn't call it unique. It reminded me a bit of an over ripe avocado, which is a flavor I do not like.

After a while Holly and Rich made there way to where we had set up camp, but we never crossed paths with Ruth and Corm. Apparently my impression of the huge festival, only represented the proverbial tip of the iceberg. We came at it from the southern end and saw about one twelfth of it, while Ruth, Corm, Holly and Rich had come from the north end and had to wade through far more to reach us.

On the way home we stopped and watched pelicans flying along the shore, which was soothing and good.

If only I still had my chicas. They would be so happy for me, as my nomination in the category of "Best Animal Blogger" has leapt to a double digit!

What would my Gracie say? "Cluck, cluck."

Best Animal Blogger? I have ten votes in this category thanks to friends and family, two individuals in India (I'm Big in India) and one more vote from a fellow blogger, Calamity Kim. Now this is not false modesty, but I do feel a little funny stealing votes in this particular category. I have a lonesome bunny, 3 goldfish (one is not looking too well either) and two cats. I wish I also had 2 goats, three hens, another rabbit and some tadpoles, maybe even a chameleon, but I'm not sure how this helps. Ah, but who am to question the vision and wisdom of the voters? If I am the best, then so be it and I sincerely promise to be as good and inspiring an animal blogger as ever I can be. Thank you. Thank you all.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Some Time For Play

We are playing today, and we played yesterday. And for extra goodness, I am happy to announce that Geoff was available to play with us. He is on call, cell phone handy, but yesterday was the first day he didn't have to go in to the office. If this trend can continue, we will slowly unwind and catch our collective breath and begin to feel tendencies of wholesome family joy. And there will be more golden opportunities to play, like these...

Tutu and Grampa have come for a visit and Southwest road trip. Yesterday we all got together at Holly and Rich's. For the older children, the fun began earlier in the day, when uncle Rich took all the boys to Legoland. Lucky!

Max and Maria playing together in cousins Izzy and Nick's backyard.

A ride up for Maria...

... then a slide down.

A backyard playground is so much fun!

And cousins to play with makes for twice the fun.

I love Izzy's Action Tongue of Concentration and Joy.

Izzy enjoyed watching all the activity in the comfort of her daddy's arms.

And with neighbor friends and cousins running around, there was plenty to see.

Inside, Geoff was sharing his knowledge of real estate web searches and market trends with Corm. I think this little cold snap we are having may be rough on Corm, coming from sunny Hawaii, but I think he enjoyed the day just the same.

Izzy and Maria figuring out the Hot Wheels.

Today we are going to an Avocado Festival. Holy Guacamole! I am already eager to make some hot corn tortillas for my fresh aguacates... wish I could have some ¡Real Coca Cola Mexicana! to wash 'em down.

More things on my mind... quilting and craftiness, like what I found at "Calamity Kim's Craft Cottage." I was strolling around and found more craftiness at "Echoes of a Dream," and then I found she has a lovely Luna-like hen too. Sigh. Not in the mood to quilt, crochet or craft? How do you feel about food? If you are hungry approach "Cream Puffs in Venice" with caution! She left me drooling. Geoff gave me something to read. "Bailing out the subprime lenders:" Should be sobering enough.

That is all.
We are well.
How are you?