Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bare Root Season
Oh the fruits. The fruits. The miraculous fruits. Last week we paid a visit to the nursery, where they had signs posted announcing the imminent arrival of stone fruits and other bare root trees and shrubs. Roses too, but I already have more than I can handle there. Of course *having more than I can handle* does not instruct me in an appropriate course of non-action... no, I have too much going on and I am taking on even more. Because the fruits, oh the fruits, the miraculous fruits... they have arrived and they want to come home with me!

If the gophers could read they would be as eager and excited as I am, but I have plans to foil their feast. Back when we were Jolly Green Ranchers I learned that tight wire baskets dropped in the planting hole kept vicious pocket gophers from spoiling all our fun. Even here, the battle of the gopher is still being fought, with deadly accuracy I am happy to add. Baskets are right now being assembled. Many hands make light work... such a lovely truth.

Such a lovely barrier. One more screen at the bottom and we will keep our trees safe and sound.

Alex and Maria were with me at the nursery and were we ever astounded at the variety of trees and plants. The delicious possibilities are greater than I had hoped. Pear, three apple varieties, several plums, an apricot, and nectarine, pomegranate, persimmon, and figs. There were also cherry trees, varieties of berries, including blue, black and rasp.
Mouth watering.

Mom and I have discussed grapes, and I will be on the lookout for those too. In the meantime our family is weighing the options, discussing the merits of each choice. Apple and cherry are the two favorites, and Maria would very much like to have a "black apple tree..." she was eager to bring home the tree with the picture of a dark, luscious Santa Rosa plum as soon as possible.

It's too drizzly to prune the roses, a task that keeps facing delays. At least I have some heavy gloves and fresh lopers. The drizzle is not keeping us from digging holes though. Five holes are ready for those baskets, and when Geoff and I figure out where else we want trees, I think we will dig more holes. A lot of fruitless, dull, water sucking shrubs are going to have to make some kind of appeal to me or face the axe.

Poor Benjamin. As though fancy hooded rats aren't torment enough, now he has to be on the lookout for the gopher he fears dug this hole.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Photo Booth
Dear Geoff,
Thank you for finding a battery replacement for my camera. It's such a pleasure to be able to use my camera again. You know I love my camera. Our separation was painful and now more than ever I want to learn how to use my camera, so that when I pick it up I know what all the numbers and buttons mean and do. All in good time, right?

Geoff, this is kind of fun. Now you are in crunch mode at work and in robotics, I have to find creative ways to spend time with you.

With my new battery holding power in the camera, I was finally able to get some pictures taken. So, when cousin Becky came to pick up grandmother, I grabbed the camera and persuaded William to be our photographer. He did a good job. It reminds me of photo booth shots. I think it would be fun to make a photo-booth... or just create the feel of taking funny close-up portraits.

*click* *click* *click*

I want Becky's lipstick. My cousin is bellissima. I thought it was enough to remember to brush my hair. But I think I need to step up my game.

Maria is the Self-Rescuing Princess, and Becky and I are the Self-Amusing Diva Cousins. Grandmother is simply her wonderful self.

Definitely. I think it would be loads of fun to make a funky-cowgirl-quilt draped, straw bale photo-booth... I can totally picture it. Can you detect a party in the plans? Pony rides. Chicas running around. Mint lemonade and hot tortillas, fresh salsa... friends and music.

Maybe it's time with family, or time in our beautiful home, but new ideas and fun, inspired fantasies keep skipping through my head. I like this feeling of happiness seeping in to my pores and soul... more happiness.

More family time and photographs. More besos and laughter. More princesses and cowgirls, aprons, scarfs, tea and chipotle-apple pie. More flowers and hand holding, hugs and long visits. Mas, por favor.

It makes us bloom, I believe.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Many Facets of Geekdom

In the sidebar you may have noticed a long list of labels, with names like Chicas and El Rancho... those are a way for me to bring some order to 7+ years of Chickenblog posts. Click on the link and you get oodles and oodles of posts about my Chicas, or our lives as Jolly Green Ranchers. One of the labels is Geek, which I figured would cover all the areas of our lives where we get Geeky... Legoland, SIGGRAPH, Comic-Con, Robotics...

Hold on... we really get geeky a lot, and in many ways. I think we are going to require a Geek subheading or two. Yes. One for Comic-Con and another for Lego business, and now, one exclusively for FIRST and robotics. Obviously the beams will cross occasionally, but I think we have enough robotic material and future robotic plans to make this category worthy of its own Chickenblog label.

January 9, 2010. Launch.

So. Last year Alex was a visiting student, who joined the high school robotics team, which is part of FIRST :: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. It was obvious from the start that we had found a special program and an awesome team. And by the end of the build season our whole family was on board.

This year we actually know what's going on. Or at least we know more than we did this time last year. It's hard to contain our excitement about this build season... the next six weeks of intense-full time robot design, building and team building.

There are a lot of new team members, and this year the team is helping bring a new team up to speed... yes, we share tips, advice, support and spirit with other teams... it's all a part of the program. "Gracious Professionalism" might sound like just a "nice" idea, but in FIRST and with this team, Gracious Professionalism is a working-living-competing attitude in the arena and out. The notion of "good sportsmanship" could learn some things from robotics' Gracious Professionalism.

Yesterday the new season launched, which means teams around the world tuned in to the live NASA feed for a first peek at this year's robotics competition arena, rules and theme or game. It marks the very beginning of everything that will lead to competitions, when the team brings a completed robot to a regional event to play. With videos to watch and thick, heavy manuals to read, the team spent the entire day learning, planning and preparing for what lies ahead. It's just the beginning.

I won't be posting specific details about our team, because I am not an official media-representative, with permission to share personal photos or names... but the specifics aren't even necessary. All the teams matter. All the teams represent dedication, hard work, brain power, and the spirit of robotics. It's a Geek thing.