Saturday, June 07, 2008

Starry Nigh Hollow In June

A June Jamboree... for Pam-Mama Sparks

If it weren't for Mamasparks I am not sure I ever would have found Starry Night Hollow, the new little quilt shop in So Cal. Keep in mind, Pam lives half a country away, but she keeps track of these things! She was the one who tracked down the elusive shop address and web address for me. Until I heard from her, the rumors and legend of a beautiful house with a lush garden and rooms full of fabric and inspiration... well it seemed it was a myth.

Now I have first hand knowledge. Mercy. It's pure enchantment. The house and gardens are a well kept secret. Beyond the garden walls sits a quilt shop overflowing with fabric and art, with friendly people and inspiring patterns, samples, and classes. I am waiting for a chance to participate in a Quilt til You Wilt event... quilting and sharing until midnight, in the company of talented people. I once spent an hour visiting in Grandma Nancy's quilt class, and even in an hour I learned so much! I expect a long evening with other quilters would afford me a great deal of inspiration and practical advice. Maybe someday I will even take a first quilting class.

When Pam heard I was hoping to try Quilt 'Til You Wilt, she asked me to be sure and take pictures, to share the fun. Well, my chance to share some Starry Night Hollow fun came this weekend as they are holding a June Jamboree! Not that I was anxious to have some fun and get out of the house... but I did show up about 10 minutes early, so what does that say?

Alex, Max and Maria came with me. Maria was wearing her first chicken apron from Calamity Kim. Kim, she gets such a kick out of showing everyone the egg pocket! This "June Jamboree" is quite an event, with all kinds of fun for everyone. Maria made the most of their generosity and spent a great deal of her visit at the painting table. She loves the little ceramic cutouts she got to paint. Even Max and Alex had a good time... I should describe the Manctuary. Besides having hat and apron contests, and drawings for prizes, they are also fund-raising for Susan G. Komen... very nice.

Ah, yes. This is the Manctuary. A quiet room, where anyone less inclined to fawn over fabrics and get giddy over quilts, aprons, rick-rack and buttons, can sink in to oversized man-chairs and tune in to the wide screen TV. Isn't this inspired? I thought I would be the one dragging my feet when it came time to go home, but these 3 were the reluctant ones. Of course the hot dogs, burgers and corn chips may have also influenced their view. Let's just say, they weren't hungry again for several hours after June Jamboree!

I bought fabric. It's true. I promise, every yard is a well intended, purposeful acquisition. I actually exercised a little bit of restraint (hard to do) and I kept projects in mind, including a vision I have in mind for Bill and Alison's baby. Nothing Pink, I know. I do hope they will like something Fresh Squeezed. Maria helped me pull any pinks out of the charm pack we bought at Starry Night Hollow, saying, "Alison likes orange, not pink."

Oh dear. I made up the squares for the baby quilt, but I need just a little more fabric to sash them. And I can't help but think of making something for my Mommy, this being her special day and all. Happy Birthday Mommy! I guess we'll have to go back. Maria can wear her other chicken apron, and maybe we can enter it in the apron contest. Pam, someday we'll go to Starry Night Hollow together, and in the meantime, I hope you enjoy seeing some peeks and I have a little pin cushion pattern to send to you... a confection from the Jamboree.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Chickens Make Me Happy

A few years ago, missing our 2 acres and the 3 chicas we left behind, I decided to search the internet for other chicken bloggers. I Googled "chickens," "farmgirls," "cowgirls," and "garden loving, quilting, blogging women who miss their 2 acres and the chickens they left behind." I found so many lucky ladies, so many talented women, so many backyard hen farmers. It was sweet and sad. Makes me ashamed to admit, but I would pout and sigh and mumble, "They're living my life!" It's true. Sometimes I throw the saddest pity parties. But the sweet part kept me coming back for more and my appreciation and admiration grew.

I could not resist seeing what new ventures Farmgirl Susan and her sheep and chickens were up to. And I could practically smell good stuff coming out of her kitchen.

Then I would head over to "I Heart Small Farms" and posts like this would make me swoony and melancholy, and give me a yearning to know where and when and how I might find my way back to a garden of my own, to critters and free range hens. Other people's blogs open the world to me, and the best ones make me want to be better.

A good friend, smart and very well traveled, once said something like this: The highlight of any trip abroad is meeting someone from your own neighborhood. I love this. It rings so true and sweet. I remember when I was 10 years old and walking around in a tiny city in Central America. My brothers and I wandered into a barber shop, where an old (remember, I was 10) guy was enjoying a haircut. How did we figure out he was from the United States? I don't recall. But when we did figure out he was our compatriot, we were unmerciful. We could not be dissuaded from asking him everything under the sun about home. Even at my tender age I was aware that he was pestered by us, but it didn't matter... the 3 of us did our level best to get him all caught-up with our latest obsession. How could he not want us to tell him the entire plot of "Star Wars?" We were more than happy to reunite him with the bliss of American media and pop culture. OKay, maybe that isn't the best example of meeting someone from home while abroad, but it's the story I think of.

I think discovering some blogs is like traveling abroad and coming across someone that is just like me, or like the me I would like to be. I have had this lifetime of interests and quirks that I thought were mine alone, that I rarely shared anywhere or with anyone, and then in the blogosphere I kept encountering all of these people who were quirky like me. Frankly, I still find it shocking... not only are there other women who love aprons and vintage things, old sheets and mismatched dishes, crochet and patchwork, backyard hens, teacups, embroidery, taking pictures of anything and everything... not only was I finding people that shared all of these interests, passions and obsessions, but they were celebrating their interests. They are publishing, making, collecting, writing and enthusing their dreams and ideals. They are writing about creativity and conservation, about gardens and home schooling, about cooking and making and loving home and family.

Sometimes I feel like that 10 year old me, aching to connect with someone, anyone that speaks my language. Aching to share what I know, to point out how much we are alike. I feel that way when I visit "Posie gets cozy." It's like, "Hey, Alicia! I love what you do," and I am waving my arms in the air. "You and I have a lot in common. We could be friends!" I laugh out loud, because I recognize that yearning to feel connected and I know how funny it can seem too. So, when "Red Hen Studios" posts about old pillowcases and baby birds and boys and thrifting, I feel like I am visiting with a friend, a compatriot. I could say, "I like what you've done, and I've done something like that too," and she'd get it.

All those links in the sidebar lead to friends and strangers, and inspiration, to people who raise the bar, open doors, flip a switch and shine a light. The list keeps growing.

And truthfully, sometimes I still open a blog and sigh, she's living my life. I want so much and I want so little. I cannot apologize for wishing and hoping and wanting the things that I want. I can pause and give thanks for the good I do have, for the health of my children and the love of my family, for the community I enjoy in blogging.

This is one of those pauses. I have been hearing from other bloggers about the chicks and how much they want chicks, and I want to say, I recognize you. I know how you feel. I've been there. I am so lucky, I know. Laugh out loud with me, would you? Those chicks are so cute and stinky! They make the hugest mess, and I change the papers 2 and 3 times a day. They aren't half as cute as they were the 1st day, and they are growing so darned fast! Seriously, what was I thinking?! Sure, I am being daring and bold, but this might backfire at any moment, if we can't find a house of our own or if the landlord makes one of his unannounced visits. I keep having panic attacks about Benjamin taking advantage of an open door and a free moment alone with the chicas. How would that post read?: "The cat ate the birds. All are sad. Bad mom, bad." Gad, wouldn't that be horrible?! Enjoy the chicas with me and I will try to keep it real!

So, there is the 'whole picture' and still, I love my chicas. The chicks make me so happy. And there was a time when I would have said little or nothing, just downplaying my interests and happiness, but I don't want to be that way any more. On the contrary, I am seeking more opportunities to say I am living my own life! My own quirky life. My life with cowgirl boots and suburban chicks, with graying hair and thrift shop skirts, with homeschooled children, and big dreams. Gee, I just love these moments, however rare, when I feel like I might possibly be progressing, maturing, learning. And I hope you find ways to live your very own life too. It's a hoping-wishing feeling, because I think it would be wonderful if we could all enjoy the things that make us happy. So, I hope you can make some dreams come true and find friends to share your quirks with, and if we have some things in common, I hope you'll visit again and we can laugh out loud together.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Have you heard of this? "Dry Drowning?"

"According to the Centers for Disease Control, some 3,600 people drowned in 2005, the most recent year for which there are statistics. Some 10 to 15 percent of those deaths was classified as “dry drowning,” which can occur up to 24 hours after a small amount of water gets into the lungs. In children, that can happen during a bath."

So, I've Been Wondering...

Being that someone forgot to load the dishwasher and there is laundry that needs folding, I thought I would ask some questions. Then post some pictures, then formulate some deep thoughts and other musings, proofread, tweak and adjust, and generally dabble in the blog. After that I hope to accomplish all sorts of good things, including sending birthday cards to my brothers, going on a 42 mile fitness walk, getting may hair cut and styled, and finding someone that can potty train chickens. All in a days work. Uh. You do know when I am lying, right?

Now, about those questions... and really, you don't have to answer them, but if you have ideas that you must share, then please do share them... there are some things that have been running around my head and I haven't been able to resolve them on my own. I am never too proud to seek help... must come from practice!

1. Should I alphabetize my sidebar list of links? Or, I could put them in alphabetized categories. You may have noticed they are a random jumble, which might seem unorganized. Actually they are organized for me, and it's my mind that is jumbled and sees them as organized. Never mind. I just wonder if alphabetizing them is necessary or would be appreciated. It's very unlikely I will get around to doing anything about this. Did I mention there are dirty dishes in the kitchen? Lots of them.

2. Should I reply to comments in the comments section? I know, I've visited this theme before, but I never seem to resolve it in a satisfactory manner. Some bloggers are positively amazing about answering all of their emails and responding to comments... I am thinking of "Nikkipolani" and "Pink Purl" and "Lemon Tree Tales, for example.

I read all of the comments and I love them, and I am not sure they always require a response from me. So many comments have a "no reply" email and I cannot write back. If I respond to comments in the comments section, will you know to look there? It seems to work for "Nikkipolani" and "Oh My Stinkin' Heck." I know I will never have my act sufficiently together to answer every remark, but neither do I want to seem uncaring and indifferent. I love your comments. Love them!

3. Not sure there actually is a 3rd question.

4. Running out of steam here.

5. Probably should be doing other things.

6. Should Max have peanut butter and jelly for breakfast? Too late. I already took care of that one!

Maria is slicing and serving apple pie. Later, when I asked her to clean up her picnic, she rolled the whole lot in the table cloth and said proudly, "All done." Oh, dear, where does this come from? No, don't answer that. That was rhetorical.

More pie?

No chick flicks today. You should run over and see what Kim's done with Betty's picture! I think Kim and I should go in to business together and make a whole book of chicken dolls.

Now, if you are wondering about the tadpoles, I do have an update there: They are frogpoles! Half tadpole and half frog! And they are getting really hard to photograph, because they have become fast and camera shy. Otherwise, I am happy to report that the whole tadpole experiment is going swimmingly!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Flying High

This link will take you in the way-back machine to the day, last summer, when Calamity Kim sent us chicken aprons and so much more. Go back in time and acquaint yourself with Kim's talents and generosity, and then come back here, because she's up to something again and I cannot wait to share it!

So, if you followed the link, then you've seen those beautiful aprons, so full of handmade love and whimsy. Hanging beside me is the cupcake pennant. I can see the yellow felt cut-out chicken... it sits on my lamp. Kim's gifts are as fresh and appreciated as ever. We still marvel at her kindness and generous nature. Just 2 weeks ago Maria was wearing her apron in a lovely little antique and vintage shop, and she had all the women there in giddy bliss with Kim's apron and that delightful egg pocket. I credit Kim with bringing Chickenblog out of the shadows and in to the sunlight; she is a very generous promoter of other people's blogs.

And the fun continues. Calamity Kim has joined our chicky celebration, our rebellious outlaw act of bringing home chicks. I love that she wants to share in the fun of raising chicks, and hopefully we are not headed for a calamity of our own! Seriously, I keep thinking of a quote someone shared with me a long time ago: Where chickens are outlawed, outlaws will have chickens! Kim has fashioned a new apron for Maria to wear while feeding her chicks. And if we are outlaws, at least we will look good, thanks to Kim! You can expect to see lots of pictures when the apron arrives.

By now you may have noticed we are having a lot of fun with our cameras and movie making. I have never shared my other obsession, which is making iMovie DVDs. Geoff made it possible for us to share short movies on the blog. For those of you not able to run Quick Time movies I apologize, and Geoff wants to assure everyone that he is working on getting software installed that will make the movies postable and accessible to more readers. Yes, we want everyone to share in the unbridled pleasure of seeing our chicas take flight and run in slow-motion! Speaking of which...

In real time Amelia's bungled take-off looked mild and much like any of her other bungled take-offs. Rest assured no chicks were harmed in this documentary.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Descendants of Dinosaurs

There are, of course, many alternate titles for any given post, but I had to use this one sooner or later. When we see them run, that ungainly, pedaling motion... when we see their falcon-eyed stare, watch them stalk a fly... we laugh and say it: Descendants of Dinosaurs!

We are still calling her Amelia, and it seems to suit her. I suppose, like most pets, she will acquire nicknames. Her salt on pepper speckles are appearing. She looks more and more like a Plymouth every day. She looks more like our Luna, our little moon bottomed chick of years ago.

Why do I love these funny faces? The stern profile, the flighty demeanor? They are messy. Oh so messy, with no regard for dedicating 1 corner to bodily functions. They scratch their floor in a constant quest for something, anything to peck at. Peck-peck. Peck-peck. Peck, peck, peck, peck, peck.

Pip. Pippi Longstocking. And she is peck-peck pecking, which is all she does, when she isn't trekking off in search of new places. She is the adventurer, the intrepid exploradora. Is this the nature of Ameraucanas? One guide calls her personality "fun." Yes. Yes, Pippi is fun. Messy and fun. Messy and brave. Messy and cute. And messy too.

Pretty Pip. Her feathers are still downy, still silky and light. It will be interesting to see what patterns emerge, and what color her eggs will be. Blue? Green?

Can you distinguish Pip's sunward beak? It's behind Betty. Pip and Betty are sunbathing. We haven't talked about the hole in the ozone. It's so hard to break bad news. Amelia stretches out too. For a moment they look as though they haven't a care in the world... until a mockingbird flies over, squawking an alarming song, then the chicas leap to their feet, flapping wings, 3 little bodies pedaling in concentric circles.

They travel together, and whichever is disoriented or separated from the flock will make a pitiful PeeP. Then they pause and look about and reunite as hastily as possible. Here is Lady Betty Orpington, the the Buff Orpington. Her feathers are getting so funny, so silly and ruffled looking. It's the fault of all the new feathers that keep sprouting. I read and hear so many sweet things about Orpingtons, about how funny they look and how friendly they are.

Her head will stay small. Her body will grow bigger and rounder, and all those new feathers will keep coming until she is a big puff, with hidden legs. No wonder she pecks all day.

I know I already posted today, but this 2nd post is in keeping with my Agenda For the Day, items #1 and #2: Procrastination and Avoidance.

Our housing saga is taking a terrible toll on my mental state, and I cannot account for my (in)actions. I have even become a house s!ut... ready to commit to anything with dirt and 4 walls. All Geoff has to say is "How about..." and I jump and say "Great. Let's do it. Where do I sign?" Even a yurt, makes me feel giddy and resolute. I wish I were made of stronger stuff. I wish I could put all of it out of my head.

I think I will go see what the chicks are doing.

Help! I've Been Tagged!

I like and respect Julie so I am going to do my level best to finish this mini survey. The whole truth is I like questionnaires and surveys and filling out forms. That is just a quirky bit of truth about me. Give me a good pen and a quiet corner and I will get into a meditative trance filling in bubbles, answering tough questions and recalling addresses of yore. It's fun that she asked me to play along. These are the categories I am asked to respond to, and then I am supposed to ask 6 more friends to play along. Do you like these blog games? Would you like to play with us? Please do.

What was I doing ten years ago-1998?
First, I would like to thank Julie for posting the year, because for a moment I was anxious, thinking, "What's 'ten years ago?'" Good grief.
10 years ago Geoff got a sabbatical from work and we were in Hawaii for 4 weeks. Sweet, huh? I was 7 months, then 8 months pregnant with Max. People were looking at me like I might burst forth a baby on the spot, especially on the plane ride home! We celebrated Alex's 4th birthday there, and spent every day looking for land we could share with Mom and Corm, a place to build our dream homes. I gotta get a scanner... these are all pre-digital memories! I remember mangoes were in season, and I was having one for breakfast every morning... such luxury!

5 6 things on my to-do list for today:
1. Avoidance
2. Procrastination
3. Read another BIONICLE comic
4. Mail a check to Aunt Becky
5. Plan Alex's 14th birthday celebration
6. Work on a chicken coop

Things that I would do if I was a billionaire:
1. Reduce my wealth by half by contributing heavily to charity.
2. Reduce the remainder by half by contributing heavily to family and friends.
3. Reduce the remainder by half by setting my husband up in his own business.
4. Buy a house. Make it a home. Play, play, bake and quilt and read, take pictures, post to my blog, feed chickens, nurture children, flirt with my husband, garden, and thank God for blessings... just like always.
5. Give it all to my husband, who knows better how to manage money.

Places I have lived:
Los Angeles, California
Ramona, California
Esquintla, Guatemala
Richfield, Minnesota
and some 20 other places...

Snacks I like
I'm glad there isn't a cap on this category, although I should put a cap on my consumption. Just saying.
1. Popcorn. Definitely popcorn. Light oil, stove popped. No butter. A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and a dash of Lawry's season salt.
2. Celery and hummus. Mmmmyummy

6( I have to aim higher, because most people clam-up) Lots of people I want to know more about:
Ruth M
Delia L
Helen VV
Nancy VV
Holly VV
Anne L
Cyrus K
Karen S
Cristina T
Marica V
Alison G
Gretchen KG
Hans G
Bill G
Pam L
Dallas S
Jennifer W
Susana M
and You

Our outdoor table is getting primed and painted, and fitted with some additional boards. My mind overflows with bright ideas that, while lacking in engineering integrity, are sometimes really quite clever. Like turning an old and cheap table in to a compact and mobile chicken coop. The modifications are coming along. We really must pick up the pace though, because the chicas are no longer little palm puffs, tiny and shy. The chicas are springing from their cage, sprouting flight feathers and pert tail feathers. They have become taller, gangly explorers that want to spread out, scratch the earth and spread their wings. Geoff has agreed to help me with some more technical aspects of my endeavor. He wants to protect our investment!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Flights of Fancy

We do play!

This is all about randomness and my whimsical, fanciful mood. First of all, my Mom and I had a good laugh about my break from blogging. Yes, she noticed I've had a lot to say ever since I cutback. What can I say? It's good to know I am not the only one who juggles with issues about quitting, cutting back, taking breaks and then jumping in for more... "Crunchy Chicken" is taking a poll on this timely topic. What do you think?

What do you think of peanut butter on whole wheat bread, hold the jelly?

What do you think about Pork and Beans? And what do you think about science and geeks, and recycling?

I love science and geeks, and these Pork and Beans. And I love my serious boys. My serious boys engaged in serious geek topics. Building flying cars, designing a Lego universe. All your geeks are belong to us. What do you think about video games, and music and slow motion photography and stop motion photography? What do you think of robots?

What do you think of back yard pools, back yard camping, and climbing trees? Max wants me to to think about BIONICLE and this really hurts my brain. I try and I try to learn all those names and places and events. Alex used to try to teach me, and William used to try to teach me, and I just never have been able to retain any of it. Lately, I am reading the BIONICLE comics aloud, to Max. I do all of the voices and dramatic pauses, and I thought this was making him really happy. He says, "It's alright. Mostly I am only interested in you learning the story."

Sometimes it pays to put aside all your troubles, look the other way. Last night friends came and we played and laughed together, and the sun went down and then it came up again, and nothing's really fixed or changed, but I just feel a little bit better. I don't want to over think this... Over thinking is something I do well, and it's not to be confused with deep thinking or productive, genius type thinking. What do you think of swirling and dancing, even when there is no music? What do you think of dresses and aprons, picnics, wide brimmed hats, ponds, brownies, and charm packs?

Nothing is fixed, but the sun came up and I feel alright. I'm going to take a shower, and go on a walk. I'm going to watch the chicas run in the garden, and do some hand quilting. I am going to read a BIONICLE comic to Max, water the garden and listen to music...

...Listen to Pink Martini

"Hang on Little Tomato"
You gotta hold on, hold on through the night
Hang on, things will be all right
Even when it's dark
And not a bit of spark
Sing-song sunshine from above
Spreading rays of sunny love

Just hang on, hang on to the vine
Stay on, soon you'll be divine
If you start to cry, look up to the sky
Something's coming up ahead
To turn your tears to dew instead

And so I hold on to his advice
When change is hard and not so nice
You listen to your heart the whole night through
Your sunny someday will come one day soon to you