Friday, April 11, 2008

1, 2, 10, 6, 7, 2 Go!

That's Maria's countdown. I had to borrow it, because it's so effective.

I marvel at how many times it is necessary to reaffirm our beliefs, our dreams and plans. Recently we had to asses how well or not well things are working here at the Garage Mahal. Our rental mansion is not ideal for our way of doing things, things like homeschooling, building robots, camping in the yard... we are a project family, a family day-dreaming of raising chicks and planting pumpkins. We are not very much at home here, but would it make any sense to move? Again? Oh Lord. Not again. No, until it's our own home, I will drag my boots and kick and scream before I move one more time.

Hold on a sec... I am closing my eyes and counting how many times I have moved in my young 41 years... let's see... not counting moves my father made, I have moved 24 times. Not every move was a trial. Not every move was a disappointment, and we can suppose that I am a better person for the experiences I have had, but good grief, I would just like to sit still for a few years. I can think of only 1 time when I was completely unpacked. That lasted 5 months. It was extremely gratifying.

Rather than find a place with a better layout or a bigger yard, Geoff and I decided to shift stuff around. I had begun to allow the front room to become a sewing room and the same room has also been our school room. It's probably not the intended purpose of the formal space with the standing faux columns to be decorated with white boards, folding tables, fabric stashes, text books and computers. Our activities are probably better suited to a basement, but only in the classic and traditional sense and it is well established that we are neither classic nor traditional. Besides California homes rarely have basements. Gosh, this is a lot of fluffy writing.

We are going to make the front room an exclusive school room. I brought home another folding table and we added a desk and the old Mac is set-up there. The final results are still being worked on, and hopefully this will facilitate reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic. The sewing room has been hauled to the garage. I just inhaled. It's a garage and full of garage kinda things and weak light and not much in the way of style or charm. If we stay through Winter I won't be sewing much, and in Summer I am sure I will have to swing the door up for air, but right now the temperature is fine in there. Geoff says he'll find me an outlet. Max suggested I paint the wall of stacked moving boxes... tempting.

Well, when there is power and after we find another shelf for my fabric, it will be functional and good. I find it satisfying enough just thinking of how I spared us a move. We can't have chickens and there isn't room to grow pumpkins or sweet peas, but at least some issues are placated.

Jennifer has started a Hope Revolution. Besides leaving affirmations and notes of encouragement around town, she sent me a Joy package full of goodies and fun. She shared stamps and quilting books, and she made me a CD of "new to me" tunes, which I love. She filled a box. The fruit scented jumbo pencils have been a favorite of all. Jennifer, I hope you and Dean are enjoying your *solo* weekend. Track those shoes wherever you may and think of me when eat something so bad it's good. You and I have so much in common. Isn't it amazing the number of times we find we are having the same thoughts or themes? You cheer me and make me glad our paths cross again and again. Thank you.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sentimental Journey

Adopt the pace of nature,
Her secret is patience

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

When we lived on our Rancho, a 2 acre rustic oasis where we played at being farmers, there was a big water trough that was left by the previous owners. I got a lot of help dragging that thing up from the pasture and over to the garden by the chicken coop. Geoff drilled some drain holes into it and then hooked it up to our irrigation system. I filled it with mulch and compost and dirt and seeds, and it wasn't long be before we had an elevated and healthy, drip-irrigated garden.

Can you see Rosie, our Rhode Island hen...? she's stepping on one of the granite rocks that encircled the play area. Alex and his great grandmother were sitting in the garden together. I miss sharing our home with her, enjoying her good company. Behind them is the yard where Rosie and Gracie and Luna lived... a chicken estate, complete with hanging art and water features. We made it very classy.

We planted fig trees and guavas and jacaranda, and lots more. I really miss the fig trees. And the lime tree. And the lemon tree.

Oh, and do I ever miss these girls, my Chicas!

This is Luna, was Luna. We named her for the white moon on her chick bottom. Her moon disappeared, replaced with spots and stripes. She did retain her docile and sweet baby chicken nature. She was an easy going kind of hen.

Now Rosie was a nice hen, and we loved her, but I would not call her sweet and docile. She had more of an attitude, an agenda that focused on laying, scratching, eating and staying alert.

Here's my first baby girl. My tender, gentle and affectionate Gracie. We thought she was such a dainty, feminine chick, that "Gracie" was perfectly suitable to her person. Her name matched her lovely plumage and the wispy down that framed her pretty face. Gracie, like her sisters, would come when called, and then she would sit on my lap and let me scratch around her neck and pet her soft back. She would fall asleep in my arms. Sigh.

We grew carrots in the water-trough garden conversion, and were those carrots ever happy. They were sweet and ginormous. I remember we would pull just one up and cut potato chip size slices for a snack. Crisp and delicious. We also juiced a lot of carrots. My favorite recipe was garden fresh carrots and beets, with lime and ginger, sometimes apple too. So yummy!

I was just browsing my photo library. I thought it would be a quick glimpse of days gone by, but some of these just had to be dusted-off and brought out of hiding. Diego, resting in an empty cereal box. I have never known a more mellow cat. He would sleep in the car! He came with us on a drive to Wisconsin and on another road trip to Oregon. It was awesome, really. I wish I had a picture of him in Custer State Park, where we were getting snowed-in and buffalo (bison, right?) were blocking the road. Diego stood on the dashboard to take in the spectacle.

Our Rancho didn't always look this good. Getting it this beautiful was one big labor of love. When we bought it, it was a sadly neglected house with no landscaping whatsoever. I read the entire Sunset Western Gardening Book twice and then designed a landscape and chose all of the plants. We hired Nacho and Victor to execute my visions, and wow, what an adventure that was.

Maria would have loved the Rancho, the big sky and the fresh fruits growing all around the house. I think she would enjoy wearing cowgirl boots and a hat, like her momma.

She would love the Chica round-up, leading them home for a night's rest.

Geez. No wonder my posts take forever to write...

34 words


Monday, April 07, 2008

LEGOLAND, The Pause That Refreshes

We spent a brickrageous afternoon exploring LEGOLAND California. Holly and Nick and Izzy invited us to join them and they shared their spare tickets with us. Thank you! And we must thank our oh-so awesome Legoland connection, Ms. D, who keeps the family well stocked in spare passes. Someday I will post about our whole happy Legoland history; we have been going since opening day, when Max was just a baby. We are quite fortunate to have this family favorite within an easy drive... it's a good match for us. I need to go back through the archives and sort through the many Lego and Legoland posts... for now the links in this old post are broken... yet another project to fix, someday.

Speaking of "other projects," I am in my usual state of behindedness and have not accomplished a fraction of what I've meant to. Ironically, I have such lofty and idealized visions of how I want to do things, that I often never even leave the starting gate... uhmm, am I mixing metaphors, or just being confusing? What I am trying to say is: I do not get stuff done. And furthermore I do not get stuff done on a really grand scale, a shameful, ridiculous, seemingly unkind grand scale. Sigh.

For example: A few weeks ago I dragged my lazy butt to the mail box and waiting there was a most unexpected package, and I was so touched by it, I got teary and emotional. I was already in a weepy mood, but now I felt loved and weepy, which is much better than just weepy. It was from Tami, of Lemon Tree Tales. I don't know what inspired her but she sent me a crafty-home magazine and a beaded chicken key ring and a stuffed chicken doll pattern. I determined I would let her know the full measure of my gratitude, that I would thank her for her kindness, thoughtfulness, and for the wonderful timing of her cheering gift. And I think about this everyday and then one thing leads to another and then somehow days have become weeks, and I am starting to feel like a disorganized loser... blah, blah, blah...

OKay. So, I am behind, and that was just 1 example of my ineptitude. Geoff is going to suggest I try being less apologetic and down on myself, but I really think "ineptitude" is the fitting description, so I'm sticking with it. I will add this much: I always tell my children that it's never too late to try again, to never give up on making things right. I really want them to realize that all is not lost until we stop trying. Shall I apply this to me? Yes, I think that would be good.

Tami, your care package made me so happy I cried. I read the magazine cover to cover and the chicken key chain is hanging by our front door. The day I found your gift was a hard one and I was immersed in a major pity party. Your thoughtfulness snapped me out of my funk and made me glad. Thank you Tami. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Maybe this shot is a good one for a life's ups and downs metaphor. Just kidding. Holly's arms are in the air and William is beside her. Max and Nick are braving the front seat of the Technic Coaster's big drop. I have been on this one 6 times, and it's not the drop that freaks me out, it's the wild mouse at the top. The little car is balanced on the narrow track and it zig-zags above the park... urp!

Ahh... I am sighing, because this is like a milestone in our Lego Family Life. Maria's first horse ride as a knight. She's waited to be daring enough to make this adventure.

Lately Maria has added the word either to her lexicon. The amusing part is how she uses it.
"I'm hungry either." = I am hungry too = feed me
"I love you too either." = I love you = hugs and kisses
"I'm not like cleaning it, and I am cleaning it either." = I will not do my part. = I can be just as lazy as you

I'm almost positive I've posted this image before. Chickenblog is almost 6 years old! No wonder it needs updating and archive organizing. 1,088 posts! Whew, that's a lot. The Lego mosaic is really big. It's a funny, familiar story board, that tells the story of a late night request for a cup of water. Parents of children with Legos know this pain all too well.

Actually, I have become quite masterful at navigating the Lego floors around our house. It's no secret that I love my Lego Maniacs. On this day Alex got to participate in a Junior Master Builder contest. I think that besides fun rides, amazing Lego figures and scenes throughout the park, the greatest part of Legoland are all of the opportunities for people to play and create.

It's a fun park. There is a lot to see and do. And even the little ones enjoy themselves.

Towards the end of our visit we sat together and played at the tables, where there are generous bowls full of bricks. It was a nice way to cool off after running around the Hideaways on Castle Hill.

I asked her, "Maria, what did you make? Show mommy."
"Oh," she said proudly, "It's my boat."
I said, "It looks like a chicken."
"No(ohohoh). It's not a chicken either. It's my boat."

Alex asked, "Maria, did you make that?"
"I made this either."
"Oh, that's good. It looks like a bird."

"It's my boat. It's not a bird either."

And now I am going to pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again. Never give up. Never surrender. I am behind and late and remiss, but I am not through trying either.