Thursday, May 17, 2007

Our Sewing Girl

Maria watches me. She knows I wear earrings and she'd like to wear some too. I can balance some from the tops of her ears and she brightens when she sees the shiny gems dangling from her ears. She sits on the kitchen stool when I am cooking. She peels garlic cloves or smashes her cracker, methodically, like a cook. And she sews, like me. I've been making birthday presents, in anticipation of June. Maria has been admiring the fabrics and unraveling the double folded seam binding. This morning she climbed on my lap and observed me finishing one part of a gift.

When I finished sewing, I turned my attention to the computer and email, and this was the opportunity she needed. She *threaded* the machine herself, using more colors and spools, which she carefully put on the machine.

She collected all the components of my project and piece by piece she *sewed* them. Once they were finished to her satisfaction she stashed each piece in her kitchen cupboard, safe from thieves and busy mothers.

She turns dials and reverses the feed. Fortunately, she has not learned which button actually powers the sewing machine.

She actually had the yellow thread wound around so it looked threaded. She saw me thread it through the needle, so she understands the general concept.

She's played with the dials before, but now she is deliberate and purposeful.

I will have to remember to readjust the settings, and I hope she doesn't mind when I reclaim my pieces.

Her world is so wide open and full of possibilities, and I feel full of awe and responsibility. She's watching me. She's absorbing and growing. This is such an amazing time.

A few people have dropped their names in the hat for the Blogiversary drawing and giveaway. I would suggest they spread the word and tell their family and friends about Chickenblog and the Amazon gift certificate, but then it occurs to me that more contestants means less of a chance at winning the booty. You aren't going to ruin your odds, are you? The 5 people who have entered the contest to win 50.00 Amazonian dollars have to be liking their chance of winning.

Like my sweet-peas? They smell so good, I can inhale them through my monitor. There was one spot in the garden where Garybob did not pull up the seedlings. I have been nurturing and treasuring these beauties and, sweetly enough, they bloomed on Mother's Day.

I Googled "Chickenblog" and found a lot of Chicken bloggers and other posers, and one, sadly familiar cartoon, which I think is very funny.
It worked! We have moved to the new server and presumably you have found us, otherwise you could not be reading this... If everything looks the same as ever and you are wondering 'what worked? what's new?' It was just a server update, so don't look for a new banner or fancy badges. We're still just Chickenblog.

While we were down, which it turns out was only for a brief time, I wrote a post. I'll post it now, so I can go shower and change and pack lunches, get the kids to school, then make a fresh batch of ant poison...

Last night I wrote:

The server is finally acting weird, which, hopefully, means it is getting transferred, like Geoff asked for last week. Don't ask. It means that for everything to run better, it has to be junk for a few days.

I am not able to post to Chickenblog, but I cannot resist writing just the same. Maybe I will post what I am writing now, or maybe by the time everything is in order I will be on to new thoughts.

Right now I want to talk about connections. My first year of blogging a local public radio host was interviewing bloggers on "The Lounge." Remember Dirk Sutro? I missed the actual broadcast, but he had people in the studio that he was interviewing and they were blogging Live. Keep in mind this was 5 years ago and blogging was not the phenomenon we see today. Through Dirk's program I discovered San Diego blogger Joe "Art Lung" Crawford. We exchanged emails and comments; he helped me get more familiar with what was possible in blogging and how broad and far reaching the possibilities of blogging are. I wonder if he remembers me... I remember he was going through big changes in his life and I was fascinated with the whole concept of sharing personal stories on the internet. I know I have gotten a lot more personal in what I post on Chickenblog, but in the beginning I was far more reserved.

Fast forward a bit... Joe's life and blog continued to evolve, as did my life and blog. Joe met Leah, an artist and single mother. I started reading her blog too. Joe and Leah fell in love and married... nice, and one day Leah was congratulating someone named Janece, who had a new baby. Well, I was pregnant with Maria and I am always eager to hear good news about babies, so I went to Janece's blog. Sure enough there was a new baby and an adorable one too. I hoped my baby would be as healthy and cute as baby Amira. Now, Janece and I share comments on each others blogs; she's probably one of the closest friends, I've never met, from the Blogosphere.

When did I first discover Pioneer Woman? Or from where? I know Anne pointed her out to me, but I know I saw her blog somewhere else as well... Any way, today I was visiting "Confessions of a Pioneer Woman" and she has a big link badge to Leah Peah, who is the wife of Joe "Art Lung." It seems that Pioneer Woman and Leah are craft/blog friends.... and...

And what? Okay. In my head it just all sounded so cool, because it's a small world and there are these seemingly coincidental connections and I am observing these people that I pretend to know, and it just seems so neat that they are all somehow connected. The down side is that it just reminds me of high school. I knew everyone and was aware of their triumphs and successes, where they hung out, what they drove... They did not know me. I ate lunch with a fellow unknown, behind the gym. I had one obligatory picture in the yearbook, and 97% of the people who signed it wrote: "I wish I knew you better..." which is kinder than writing, "Who are you?" It's not that I was necessarily pitiful, I was just quiet and unknown. What was my point again?

So, blogging is huge and by now you've probably heard about it... maybe you want to start one too. It's easy and fun and blogging has endless possibilities. It can be about anything, for anyone. In my own way I think I am something of a pioneer. I know the blogging prairie was not nearly as populated when I began my journey. I do kind of feel like I am crossing in a covered wagon, while newcomers are passing me by in their Model Ts and Explorers. Maybe going my own pace, slow and easy, I can enjoy the view, make quiet, thoughtful observations and enjoy the journey... It's certainly an interesting trip.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


May 24th is the Blogiversary. Chickenblog will be celebrating 5 years of deep thoughts and other musings. You are invited to the party. On May 24th grab a cupcake when you sit down to read Chickenblog, because you may be the big winner of a $50.00 Amazon gift certificate!

Seriously. I want to create a little buzz, spread a little fun and mark the day with a surprise gift for some fortunate individual, like you. Have you sent me a comment? Sign-up and send a comment to Chickenblog and your name will be entered in the drawing. I am small time people... this is not a spam generating, capitalist conspiracy with viral attachments. It's just me, the Chickenblogger, feeling giddy about posting to this very blog for 5 years.

The chickens were the inspiration for this online message board and family newsletter. Like me, they scratch and peck, and they cluck with a mighty fuss whenever they have news to share.

So, do not delay. Sign-up today. Come to my virtual party, help me celebrate, and you may take home a prize!

Post From the Past...

July 25, 2002

Alex asked, "Where do rhubarbs grow?"

I remember when rhubarb grew in my mother's garden. She baked them in to pies. Strawberries, squash, corn, sunflowers, cilantro, and onions grew there too. There are photographs that capture moments and bring to my mind all the sights and sounds of many summers ago. Each snap shot, grainy and small, is like a synapse triggering memories so vivid I am transported back in time. I can smell the pungent squash blossoms, and newly turned dirt. And I can taste each strawberry; one for the bowl, two for my mouth.

In one photograph, we are crouched together, Billy, Mom and I, and at our feet are the zinnias she grew from seeds. The heads of the flowers are big and brightly colored; they match the intensity of the sunlight that makes us squint at the camera. We are in the front yard, beside the driveway, where Dad parked his red pick up. And the ground looks hard and dry. Mom must have been diligent about watering those seeds. She must have worked very hard to make anything grow where it was so dry and harsh.

I recall the green hose, and Billy in drooping diapers, and the look of impish glee on his face. He loved to splash people with the hose, to be in command of the water. We feigned anger when he wouldn't surrender the hose, but I can still hear the laughter that ensued when he sprayed us, or even when we talked about Billy and the garden hose. There must be a picture of him, somewhere, full cheeks dimpled and wet, standing in the overgrown grass by the front porch. He will be smiling so fully, you can feel his joy.

And it was summer when Hans was born. He is in the garden too, and it must be early evening, but still hot enough for nothing but diapers. A blanket is spread on the ground. Bill sits proudly beside the baby, who lies next to him. Hans is small, with dark hair and he looks healthy, and even determined. Who could say, then, what he was prepared to do in his life; his newborn body is decidedly strong and alert.

And there are sunflowers over my head, not in the picture with my brothers, but in my recollections. I remember standing on a chair to look in to the face of a sunflower and feel the hard black seeds packed in rows. I remember walking the two or three blocks to the feed store to buy a packet of sweet corn seeds. And I can smell the bales of hay and straw, alfalfa, and the chocolates on the counter. Through the tack room, which was leathery smelling, passed the aquariums and in the back shed, were chicks and ducklings, and stacks of grain sacks and feed. And walking home, with the heat radiating up from the asphalt, I watched the sheep in the pasture across the way.

It is past and present. It is recalling and surrendering. It is immersion. It is so deeply engaging, that I can touch and hear, and smell and feel those places and events.

'Rhubarbs' grow in gardens, where summers are hot, and children are born and play. They are harvested, with strawberries, and baked into pies, by women who dig in the dirt, rake, and plant seeds, and water and weed, and work very hard to help things grow, even in difficult places. Rhubarbs have poisonous parts. They are not sweet. It takes extra care and effort to allow them to fulfill their potential and become healthy, and good, but some women have the patience and love to make it all come together.
Updated, November 15, 2020. My Mom has been organzing photos, particularly the ones her Mom, Eunice, had. It's been a massive undertaking, because she is scanning them, editing them, and then taking the time to redistribute them to all the family. I so appreciate her work, and care. This one came recently, and I remembered writing this post, and only imagining the picture, even questioning if it was a picture that existed as I recalled. I am so happy to add it here. My Mom is holding Bill, and I am crouched beside them. This was taken in Ramona, California, about 1970. I still drive by that house sometimes.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Calaveras County

We didn't want to leave Calaveras County; it was too idyllic, green, whimsical and fun. There was too much yet to explore, like Mercer Caverns and the ultra charming town of Murphys. We were going to miss the County Fair in Frogtown, which I tried to de-emphasize for Max's sake. Max loves, loves loves frogs, and so does Alex. Angels Camp was full of froggy touches, which Max was suitably pleased with.

I will emphasize all the charm and beauty of what we enjoyed, like the Lake and the trees, the rose gardens that spilled over rock walls and picket fences, the night sky whose clear mountain air sparkled with diamond stars. Naturally I played with the idea of living there... maybe in town, in a 1848 town house, with a lopsided porch and window boxes full of candy apple red geraniums, or nestled in a dip between the rolling hills, where the oak trees offered expansive shade beneath their broad canopies; there we would live in a farmhouse with a root cellar, wrap around porch, hens, a goat, a pond, a garden and orchard, and a workshop, where fantastic ideas would come to life. Yes, a vacation is as much for the soul as it is for the body.

Then we left. We drove to broader and broader roads, then highways, and heat, traffic, billboards and Wal-Marts and endless freeway-close housing developments. Skip to the coast:

Isn't it wonderful to know people in faraway places? Well, I'd rather they weren't quite so far away, but it's awfully nice to find them at home, when we are far from ours. I love Bill and Alison's Santa Cruz area neighborhood, where there is a lovely mix of art and funky, old and new, organic this and that, little farms and farm stands, big trees growing close together and of course the coast. The Monterey Bay is a beautiful sight.

We stopped by for a little visit with Dominic and Bill and Alison and their cats, Gracie and George. I wish we could have stayed longer. We were already trying to budget our time for the inevitable drive home. Sigh.

The temptation is to stay for a few days and absorb all the family bonding I miss throughout the year. We could peruse the family photo albums, get lost in "Remember When" stories and witness the new stories that are taking form. I would like to see more of the places they frequent and know them better, feel connected when we are not. If we were neighbors we could enjoy smaller doses of time together, unhurried, less urgent.

As it is, I miss my extended family and feel far, far away from their once familiar lives. I'm so glad we had this visit. Dominic is growing, as babies do, and so are my four, and it's good to get them together. I've already learned that I cannot recreate what I enjoyed in my childhood, like the company of many cousins and lots of family close by, but I do want my children to know all of their cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents and so on. Family time is uniquely good and assuring, it holds a connectedness like no other.

And I cannot imagine not returning for more family time, and warm hugs.

Warm hugs, and art and the art of Gayle's. Yes, we snuck into Gayle's for a quick peek. If you knew Gayle's Bakery you would not be able to resist her charms either, and Alex has a thing for Olallieberries which are berry with a very short season and local growing range. We found one last Olallieberry turnover, and a cookie each for the rest of us. Mine was lemon poppy seed. They are small and delicious, which is much better than any oversized store bought treat..

My brain is throwing topics at my typing fingers:
1. Anne and Natalie's fantasy of a farm/farmer's market, local cuisine sampling road trip (including Gayle's)
2. Making a home that reflects favorite places and spaces (like Gayle's)
3. Bill and Alison's wedding anniversary... (from their wedding we were introduced to Gayle's)
4. Savoring the good things in life in art, food, and family time (Why not at Gayle's?)

5. Anne, when we are done quilting, gardening, cooking and blogging, let's make these clever mosaic tables (I saw this one at Gayle's)

So many thoughts and ideas to savor and relish and perhaps some day act on. Isn't it wonderful to find inspiration, even if it only bounces around in your head. I like having bright thoughts. And I like finding unusual sights when I am on a road trip. We had to go a long way to find the pig eggs I dubbed "bacon and eggs." But the dinosaur at In-n-Out was a stroke of pure luck.

He came driving south on the 101, on his way to Santa Fe, and like us, he got hungry for a California road trip staple.

I imagine he ordered a dozen Double-Doubles, "animal style."

Monday, May 14, 2007

Still waiting for this to happen:
FYI: Chickenblog is going to get some server updates in the next 48 hours, so we may be shut down for a bit... don't know when, or for how long... but when it happens I will be lost and sad... even my email will be affected!

It's getting close to the Blogiversary, and Geoff and I have been discussing The Prize. Supose it were an Amazon Gift Certificate? Would a little Amazonian currency get you excited? Do you think it would bring out any lurkers? Being who I am, I was imagining creating an original work of Chicken art that would be coveted by dozens and dozens of people; not going to happen. I am bursting with artistic and craftistic inspiration, but I am depleted of free time, and my own space. Being who I am, I was envisioning the Blogiversary as a festive celebration of 5 years of Chickenblog... confetti would fly across your monitors and the words and imagery would go to your heads like your favorite wine; again, not going to happen. Chickenblog just ain't that fancy, folks. Being who I am, I hope to include some fun and a little token of my happiness in sharing, so I will give something away. Email me or reply in the comments, say hi or hola, and your name will be thrown in a hat for a $50.00 Amazon Gift certificate drawing!

Have a great week.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother

Happy Mother's Day.

I love being a mother.
I love being, "Mommy," whispered softly, affectionately.
I love being "Mom! Mom! MOM! CAN YOU GET ME SOME WATER?" Two minutes after tucking them in, again.
I love being "Mom." Even with the exasperated, withering look.

I love being a mother, when I find them all together, sharing something, looking out for one another, as they so often do. Late Friday night, when the house got too quiet, I remembered that they were in Alex's room and William was reading aloud, another chapter of "Lord of the Rings." Alex reads "The Hobbit" aloud on camping trips. They all draw together and plan and build together.

I love being a mother. I love that Geoff is their father, my husband and partner, my friend and co-conspirator. We click. We synch. We can know with a glance that we love each other and we love these children.

I love that I am my mother's daughter, and that she is her mother's daughter. I love that I know so many beautiful, brilliant women all blessed with mother love.