Saturday, October 20, 2007

Synchronized Insomniacs

Last night we left our still damp carpet and went out in to the world in search of food and amusement. Friday night is Family Night, and we usually spend a large part of it debating what to do. Fortunately Maria made a decisive and clearly stated plan: "Pumpkin patch. I like a go pumpkin patch." Yes! We have a destination! A plan! Willing participants! Friday night turned out to be an awesome night to go to the neighborhood corner, where there were lights and straw bales and inflated jumpy houses. No crowds. No sulky-cranky pumpkin patch slaves. We owned. Alex and Max jumped to their hearts' content, which was a blast to watch. Maria bounced to her heart's content, which meant she did not bounce much at all. We even managed to get away with only purchasing one over priced squash orb. Alex has big plans for his pumpkin. Plans that include a Dremmel tool. We will share photos.

The pumpkin patch is home to two golden retrievers who were the kind of dogs that make me want to be a dog owner... they were that good! They never left the lot, they never barked or made inappropriate sniffing maneuvers, and they happily played with anyone willing to toss their dog toy. Awesome dogs.

I took a lot more pictures, but my nighttime photo skills need some help. The flash is way too bright and the pictures taken with flash look... uh... look really, really, really bright. No flash can sometimes look arty, but most times just look blurred. More to learn. It's cool.

Oh ya... the insomnia. Sometimes Geoff and I both have insomnia and we stay up talking and expounding on all of our brilliant theories. While I loathe insomnia, Synchronized Insomnia is kind of nice. We reconnect, solve problems, make plans, come up with designs, and philosophies and we cuddle. My brain was running a mile a minute with all kinds of deep thoughts and insights. I designed 3 major features of my dream house, I resolved to accept my thrift-shop domestic style, and I made a fantastic, if completely late, retort to the principal's take on 'parents and teenagers should not mingle at the school party' speech (bottom line: She's totally wrong.) Geoff summarized where all of these economic turns are taking us... the dollar plummets, China cuts their ties to the dollar, no more cheap imports, so Americans reboot their manufacturing and we become the exporters, which doesn't really help the environment, because it's still all about buying stuff. From 2 a.m. until around 4:45 a.m. we were geniuses, eloquent and articulate. Yes!

Now I am off to save the world!
And later, a nap, because I need sleep real bad.

Friday, October 19, 2007

I am So Confused!

I want to Save the Planet and I want to Do the Right Thing and a China-Free Christmas makes sense too, except that it raises a lot of questions:

Are we targeting just China, or is the idea to avoid all imports? I was just at the book store and was bummed to realize a lot of books are published in China. And the stuff that isn't from China is from Denmark, Honduras, Guatemala, Malaysia, India and even (gasp!) Canada! What's a consumer to do? We are a global market, like it or not, and to really commit to the China-Free Christmas is big! I am not throwing in the towel... I'm just saying.

OKay, what about paper plates? Bad, right? But we are importing water and dish-washing is bad? But paper plates take water to make and trees... dead trees. I want to get rid of paper plates, but someone around here refuses to give them up, and someone leaves lights on all over the house and never feels even the slightest bit of remorse or shame. Me?... I scurry around turning out lights, shutting-off water and recycling every scrap... proudly, indignantly. And I have always been this way. I call myself Al Gore's B!tch (I have a particular fondness for self-deprecating, satirical humor), but I've been Green since the olden days.

Will it matter? Am I really making a difference? I believe I want to make the real changes, the tough choices, but in reality I know I am not doing enough. There are a lot of imports under our roof, and I make a lot of driving trips to the market, schools, the good fabric store that is 20 minutes away. We just got our carpets cleaned. What environmental circle of hell does that put us in? And next week I am having friends over for dinner, and I don't have enough soup bowls... all the bowls at Target are made in China, and if you tell me to go find some groovy local artist throwing clay and making $40.00 made in America bowls, I will balk, and seriously consider going back to serving my guests on paper plates.

How are you coping with all of the demands to do right by our bodies and health, by our families and home, by our Nation and our planet? Sometimes Most of the time I am so confused it feels like I do all the wrong things. Feh. Most people I know are living very comfortable lives... I know, I've lived in third world countries... we do not suffer. And I like being comfortable.

Ummm... I don't know where I am going with this by the way. I'm just so confused. Is it too soon to watch "Elf?"

Tough To Debate Climate Change Video

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Loose Ends and Split Ends

I am going to pretend that people frequently ask me questions... well, some people have asked me questions, so I am not making a huge leap of imagination here. Anyway, today I am going to answer questions.

What's with you and chickens?
When Geoff suggested I try blogging and I had no idea what I was getting in to, and chickens were foremost in my list of amusing pastimes, I chose "Chickenblog" as my working title and it sort of stuck. As this is post #958, I guess I am committed to my working title.

We do not have chickens. We have a bird, a parakeet, that we call Steve... he's smaller than a chicken and he's more trouble than chickens, but we like him anyway. We had chickens, and we loved them very much, and when we thought we were meant for a different destiny we sold our Rancho and the dear Chicas stayed with the new owners. (BTW I called them chicas as a play on the word chicken and the Spanish word for girl.) Sigh. This is all a very tender subject, because I want chickens still. They are funny and dear, and ours were very affectionate and amused us immensely. I love to watch chickens and hear them... they make me happy and I can't wait to have the freedom of keeping chickens and a garden all our own.

Will you share the albóndigas recipe?
Yes. Well, eventually I will. I don't have a recipe... not in the classic sense. It's one of those things I make and just know what to add. Geoff thinks my cooking is tasty, but a little nuts, because it's always random. I am not trying to be mysterious or elusive. Wouldn't it be great if we could just get together and cook? That would be awesome. Next time I make my meatball soup, I am going to take pictures and make measurements, sort of, and when I have something resembling a recipe, I will share it.

Next question?
Gee, it felt like there was so much I was neglecting to address. Er... maybe it's the housework I've been putting off and not questions about my true feelings and deep thoughts. I would like to thank everyone that leaves comments at Chickenblog. It's so nice to hear from people and I love your praise and encouragement, compliments... (True Story: Stay-at-home moms thrive on praise, encouragement and compliments.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Glitter, Paint and a Bonnet

Is it too soon for glitter? Of course not. I scrounged around in my ample supply of crafty goodness and dug out some little ornament frames. Then we managed to find the sandpaper, so we were on our way to doing a very professional job of making these early Christmas decorations. Max, Maria and I sat outside (in the part of the yard that isn't flooded) and we sanded the rough edges of our ornaments.

Our smoothed canvases were ready for something glorious... paint, glue, glitter, feathers, wiggly eyes, sequins... the possibilities seemed limitless! We chose acrylic paints and a bit of glitter. Red, green and silver sparkles to enhance our artistic efforts.

All kidding aside, I love the earnest thought and care that children apply to their creations. Max painted his stocking with stripes and stars, and he carefully added glitter to each blue star. He talked about the grain of the wood and the paint's thickness and how it looked with more or less water. Maria was no less careful or vested in her project. She took her time, delighting in every brush stroke and carefully mixing her colors for just the right effect. She knew exactly in what order to add the glitter and were to apply it.

The next day it was my turn to play, because a pattern from "Angry Chicken" arrived. I could not resist jumping right in and making this adorable bonnet, and the real incentive was that I actually had suitable fabric on hand!

I left off the brim, which will look cute for sunny, Spring weather, and I went with this Winter-cheery red corduroy. It's an easy pattern, or at least I figured it all out eventually. I think the next one will be the easy one. The results are so worthwhile... it comes out cute, charming, comforting and a nice chill blocker.

Maria loves wearing her new hat.

I love that I found a worthy use for this precious flannel print I picked-up in Oregon. There were only 2 fat quarters of this fabric left and I was eager to use it for something special. Now it is lining her bonnet, making it soft and warm inside. I love it. I wish I had enough to line a coat. I wish I knew how to make a coat! Maybe I should pick-up Amy Karol's book!

Do you think the boys would agree to dress as Wampanoag and Pilgrims, and pose with their sister for a sepia toned Thanksgiving photograph? What? It could happen.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

These Boops Were Made for Walkin'

Like her brothers did, Maria wears her boots all the time. Max wore his to my brother's wedding. Alex wore his almost every day through kindergarten. Red rain boots, yellow rain boots, blue rain boots, frog rain boots... rain boots worn until they come apart and cannot be worn any more. After a while they had to give them up, since no one makes colorful boots in Mens size 9 or 11 or 14... too bad. Maria is in her glory days, when there are many sizes of rain boots yet to be worn.

When I woke up to the sound of rain, I knew just what I wanted to do: Get Maria in her boots and take her on a rain walk. There are few opportunities to actually have use for boots where we live, so we have to make an extra effort to meet opportunity and enjoy! Naturally we could not find her boots, not right away. How do these things happen? Half-way up the stairs her frog boots sat, waiting to be found.

"Boops!" Maria exclaimed when we pulled up her socks. She put on her boots and began her search for an umbrella. All week long the umbrellas have been horses that she rides up and down the halls, around the family room. Today she was going to finally see what else an umbrella can do.

It smells so good when it's been raining. Someone was keeping a fire, and the faint fragrance of chimney smoke mingled with the smell of damp, fallen leaves. There is some other smell I associate with rain and I want to say it is the clouds themselves. Billowy clumps of rain laden, grey clouds have a wet, clean smell.

You can't always convince 6 people that an early morning walk in the rain is a good idea. That's alright. Geoff, Maria, Max and I went out to greet the brand new day. The night before, Maria stopped to stomp on every fallen, crunchy leaf. This morning the leaves were plastered to the sidewalks. No crunch.

I know real winter is bitter, hard, cold! I know it means shoveling snow, difficult driving, days without sun, falling limbs, and cold, but I can't help wanting to live with seasons. My brain lists all the practical points and my heart just says, "Oh, it would be so lovely."

And now it's time to share what I've been finding in the Blogosphere... even though promoting other blogs only improves the likelihood that fewer people will come around here, I cannot resist pointing out interesting bits and pieces and adhering to the spirit of blogging and the internet, which is building a network, making connections... link, link, link.

First, a gift from Gretchen, who was here last night. She gave manicures to the ladies of the house and then shared a link that has been keeping her grinning this week. Maria asked us to play the dancing bird again and again... about 12 times. And you know what? It was funny every time.

The internet is full of shorthand and I don't always know what all the acronyms are... like what's______? (Update: I had to remove an acronym that is apparently not appropriate for a family blog. Live and learn. LOL) I know that a WIP is a Work in Progress. I have lots of WIP's. I did not know what an ATC is until I found a link: An ATC is an Artist Trading Card. Cool. Fun. Might like to try that.

Now where did I find the ATC link... ? I think it was at this blog: "This is How We Shine." Someone in New York is raising 2 boys and unschooling and loving life and she's sharing her observations and story. Also cool. Also fun. Makes me glad about our course too, since we've been unconventional from time to time.

Julie, of "Red Hen Studios," may know Anne of "This is How We Shine." Anyway, they are sort of neighbors, and in the blogosphere we can all be neighbors. I love popping over to visit "Red Hen Studios" where there is art, photography, reflection and another family with four children. Today is post 101 for Julie and she's celebrating. Stop by. It's a friendly place.

A movement is taking shape... or maybe it's well formed and I am just catching on... anyway, there is a challenge out there to celebrate a China-Free Christmas. Now, I am all for skipping fancy plates... oh wait, not that china! They're talking about 98% of the stuff we find in our cart whenever we shop. Whoa! This is a tough one people. I like the idea very much, but I am intimidated by the difficulty of accomplishing this challenge. Where are Legos made? I cannot sincerely commit, until I confirm that Legos are made in Denmark. I bought a can of beans at Trader Joes... it was from China! Beans! So, I found out about this at one of my favorite blogs: "Infinity More Monkeys," and she heard about it from "Me and My Storey."

Now Max and I are going to play UNO. Have a wonderful end of weekend. And come back, share your thoughts.