Saturday, July 12, 2008

Chicks Make Demands

"Equal air time," and "More time in the dirt," those are the sort of demands these chicks make. Negotiations are ongoing. If they start asking for a percentage of the $00.08 I made through blog ad revenues last year, it could get ugly. Besides, I don't think they are even in the Guild. I have every reason to believe we can settle this peacefully.

Buttercup is looking a lot less buttery, and a lot more peanut buttery.

Another difference we are noticing from when we first brought Fantam and Buttercup home, is that they are quite strong. They seem stronger, more willful and wilder than Amelia and Betty were.

Maybe funnier looking too.
And we certainly agree with Lesley, when she says, in the comments: "And can't you just see dinosaurs in their shapes and stances?" You aren't being "weird" Lesley. They are dinosaurs.

On more thing... an important note: Em, of "Em and the Gang," is fighting the good fight for chickens and city farmers everywhere. Please give her a round of applause, and a cheer, as she petitions to make backyard chickens a choice and freedom in her town. Em is a hero in our household. Be sure to see her air time, and let's hope all of her neighbors wise-up.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Chickens and So Much More!

"I have to say, for a chicken blog--I don't see many chickens. But oh well; it's all good.
--Kate, The Manic Gardener"

Do I need a disclaimer? Should I tell my story, the origins of "Chickenblog," all over again? Is it time to revisit those Chicas... Chicas of the past and present?

Lady Betty Orpington. She's a big girl now.

In the olden days, before iPhones and Blue-Ray, I gave up handwriting letters and started learning how to email family and friends. Geoff had always been computer savvy. He used to read me Internet articles back in 1990, which is only recent in geological time, but not in the context of modern technology. So, Geoff was hip and cool, but I was a total newbie and using email was a gigantic tech-step.

Amelia, The Test Pilot. She's got her wings now!

Anyway, I was writing emails to Hawaii and Wisconsin and trying to keep family caught-up with our growing family. And it never occurred to me to cut and paste, to send the same letter to multiple people... that seemed like it would be impersonal, like cheating, and besides, I could never remember the keys for cutting and pasting. In 2002 Geoff thought it was time to update the whole communication system. He thought web-logging would be the most efficient and interesting way to share news and explore a medium that was just starting to take-off.

Amelia's feet are spotty and her beak has a Groucho-'stache. I think Betty could stand in for Harpo.

Not me. No, I am a resistant, foot dragging, fearful, shy, reluctant kind of being. I still pop my corn on the stove top and I am suspicious of new fangled things, like yogurt in a tube and online banking. Microwave popcorn is not right. Bank tellers should be better dressed than me and alive, because that is just what I am used to. I just know I've told this story before. I wonder if I am telling it the same, or dressing it up?

I was kicking and screaming, but Geoff dragged me into the 20th century. Then he pulled extra hard, and managed to get me into the 21st century. My first assignment was to choose a name for my blog. Having never seen any blogs, and still not understanding what the point of blogging could be, I felt unprepared and indecisive. I didn't feel like a person with an agenda or something to sell. I did not have a hobby I wanted to share or promote. There was no creative impulse to drive me, and so no inspired, literary, introspective, artistic or appropriate names came to mind. We had just adopted 4 chicks, the most happy and daring thing had done since having babies, and chickens were foremost in my thoughts. They were new and funny and a source of pleasure for our family, as we were beginning a new chapter in our lives. Our Rancho lives, living in a fixer-upper in the country, learning how to operate a tractor and battle gophers. Amused and distracted by our 4 chicas, I chose "Chickenblog" as the name of the blog.

I see Kate's point. There aren't many chickens for a chicken blog. And, sadly, there were many years with no chickens at all. Chickenblog is about my dreams of having chickens, it's about the whimsy of chickens, it's about me feeling giddy and optimistic when I think of chickens. Chickenblog is my letter to family and friends, a family journal, a way to connect. It's about chickens of the past, like the one we bought for a dime, when we were living in Guatemala, or the ones Santa brought us when my brothers and I were really little kids. Chickenblog is about the chickens we brought home in May 2002, and the new flock we started this year. Chickenblog is about not knowing better and thinking my blog needed to call itself a blog. Chickenblog is about me and us and our stories and deep thoughts and other musings, and sometimes I think I write like a chicken... hunting and pecking at the keyboard, scratching the surface and looking for good things, crowing and noisily clucking when I feel good or scared or excited.

I am amused when I think of how reluctant and confused I felt when I started blogging... Almost like a headless chicken. Just kidding. Creepy, I know. Sorry. (lol) I could not see the big picture or where things would head. There is a lot we take for granted about blogs now, and there are almost as many blogs out there as there are themes and motivations... it's funny to me, thinking about the early days. 6 years ago was a long time ago in the world of web logging. I wonder where we will be 6 years from now...

I know where we were 19 years ago. We were catching our breathes, grinning, happily just married. Happy Anniversary Geoff. Still grinning. Still happy. It is all good.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Undeservedly Proud*

This morning I opened my email and scrolled down until I didn't want to scroll down any more, it was a random choice, and I began responding to emails and comments. I made 36 separate and personal emails. Some were solicited, some were not, most were long overdue, and I think my efforts represent something like 2% of what I should have done in the last, oh, let's say 12 or 13 months. And while I will emphasize my inadequacies in the department of "Prompt and Polite," I have to say I feel really super-proud of myself.

If you have not received an email or comment from me today:
1. The day is young (in California.)
2. I have to keep Chango's vet appointment.
3. I have every good intention of being super and effective and wonderful.
4. I may never get around to it.
Sorry about that last bit, but it's honest and honesty must count for something.

It's like I told my friend Tarie, I am sorry if I have neglected you, but consider: You are in good company. I have been neglecting everyone, especially me.

If our good deeds are sparks, then I hope I am starting a fire.

*Now, Maria has plenty of reasons to be proud... just look at this picnic she has set out for us. She made a layer cake. See the peas? She makes most of her cakes with peas. She's such a sweetie.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Thank You. Muchas Gracias.

Writing about Mexico and memories felt like a private memorial, that I had to get out of my head. Part therapy, part record keeping, so that my children could understand me and how I was feeling. I couldn't leave with 1 hour's notice, at 11 p.m. Monday night, to drive 16 hours for my abuelo's funeral. I was sad enough that he died, and I think I was even sadder to realize I was missing an opportunity to say goodbye, to share my story and hear theirs. Having always felt some uncertainty about my ability to write effectively about my memories and feelings, and being reluctant to commit to saying things out loud, writing this post was liberating and personal. It also felt as though I have barely crossed the threshold of a part of my life, of a hundred stories, of things I know and believe, but have yet to give a voice to.

Blogging can be a lonely business. I've been writing for a while. Some posts are nearly pointless, and some posts are full of my deepest thoughts and happiest musings. As much as I have wanted to be a good writer, to reach people and start a conversation, I have mostly resigned myself to the puzzled looks from family and friends, and feeling like a goof. Receiving comments is a relatively new pleasure, and it is wonderful. Bloggers, you know it's true: feedback, encouragement, connection, community, discussions and exchanges are the fuel and frosting that top the blogging cake.

Thank you for your comments. You may have convinced me I can say things, say them well enough to start a conversation that we can all share. But mostly, because of what you shared with me, I felt like I had kind and tender company as I sorted my thoughts and feelings and began to say goodbye to my abuelo, to chapters and days that in some ways are forever beyond my reach. I could not be at the funeral, where they say it rained for days, and the lightning did not wait for the thunder, but lit the night sky with every percussion. I could not be there to hold my abuela and to share the grief, and the healing that comes with company. I have been to too many funerals in the last year, and I have seen enough death and loss to understand that support and compassion are a tremendous resource for comfort and courage. Thank you for reading about my abuelo, about things I am trying to make sense of, and feelings I want to hold on to. Thank you for responding and encouraging me, for being supportive and compassionate... it helps. I feel less alone.

I think I have been afraid to post again, because I was pretty sure I wouldn't be as eloquent or interesting as I seemed to have managed in my last post. What? I'm not too proud to admit positive feedback felt really good. Really good. So, maybe I will slip back into mediocrity and obscurity. Maybe I have the rough draft of the next best seller, but writing is like surfing. Some days you paddle, paddle, paddle and never get a ride.

And some days you catch a wave.

Perhaps every post won't be an exhilarating ride, but I am hooked on blogging, and I love looking through the archives and seeing my children, recalling the things they've done and said. I love reminding myself that there have been good days and bad days, and I am still around to know the difference.

Independence Day was a good day. I planned a long day at the beach with the children, expecting Geoff would work, as he usually has to, but he exchanged this day for working the weekend (which he usually does) and he joined us for an entire day of surf, sand and sun fog.

Truthfully, I love the fog. It was overcast, but warm, and it made it easier to play all day, without feeling scorched. We dug a private pool for Maria. Max, Geoff and William did a lot of bodysurfing. The beach was crowded and happy. We had chips and dip. I love chips and dip. We ate strawberries, we walked, we built drip castles.

It didn't stay crowded. By late afternoon the beach was deserted, and we enjoyed a very foggy walk, collecting all kinds of treasure along the way. Suddenly I decided to tile our shower with the smooth stones that cover our beaches. Not the shower here, at Garage Mahal. The shower in our own, future, imaginary, hopeful, some day house. I walked back to our base-camp carrying about 15 pounds of shower tiles. It's a start.

Someone got hold of my camera. Notice my relaxed, at ease expression?

Nothing's ever as easy as I think it should be. This day, this no-stress day at the beach was days in the planning and took hours to prepare and pack for. I was totally absorbed in making an idyllic, classic sort of celebration. I even envisioned presenting one of those clever fruit decorated flag cakes. So, you know, I was scurrying around, gathering towels, finding swim shorts, hats, sunblock and anticipating every need and patriotic whim. And finally, we were ready to head out. Stop for gas, and pick up ice, then the beach, and our beautiful celebration of freedom and family time. In the market I grabbed an extra bag of corn chips and a magazine to read while lounging luxuriously, and I kept noting how terrific everyone looked. Cute T-shirts, red, white and blue details, and snazzy summer sandals. Everyone was looking dressed for a holiday. It wasn't until then that I realized I had forgotten an important detail... I was still in my pajamas. 'nough said.

I let the children decorate the Fourth of July Fruit Flag Cake.

It was beautiful.

It was a very good day.