Saturday, February 06, 2010

Without A Point

Some days it is so quiet, there is so little traffic in my cyber world, that I feel as though I am alone. Unseen. And then I feel as though I am at liberty to say or do whatever I please.

Quick. No one is looking. Say what you really think.

Then I think of other things, like chickens, and raised garden beds, the leaking roof, cleaning.

Before the rain, the days were like spring. There was a warmer sun. We were weeding this week, and pruning roses. We have nine roses, and now, thanks to Karen, they are all pruned and fed and ready for the real spring.

Anyway, before the rain, I was stretched out on the lawn and watching Betty have a dust bath. And I had my camera with me.

She looked left. She looked right. She looked right at me and she did not seem to mind that I was close and admiring. She did not seem to mind my big, black camera.

Oh Betty. I love you Betty.

You should see the pictures I took of Max. He's even better looking than Betty, but he won't let me show those pictures.

Geoff and Max are going to Parker's birthday party. Two years old already? Maria and I are sniffling a bit too much for public interaction. I hope people are grateful for our polite sacrifice, as we are very sad to miss the fun. *sigh* Alex is off to robotics, and maybe William is under the weather too, because he did not sleep well.

Why do we say under the weather? Are we ever above it? I wonder what it could mean if we said "I am in the weather."

Utterly pointless, which is my prerogative, and it is also my special right to include links to the dictionary, when a word strikes a chord.

I can almost suppose why we use the expression strikes a chord, but I am not sure it is a good expression; not for me. I do not play.

However I am feeling about the world, or my life, or the day, when I see Betty run, when she comes to my call, I feel happy. Truly happy. And the happiness lifts me, or heals me, or simply makes me laugh in spite of anything else hanging around my heart. And for my own gratification I would like to write this down: I love you Betty. I am so glad you live here, and that you eat grubs, take dust baths, give eggs, run around the yard, and clean my kitchen floor. You are simple, yet lovely. You are messy and silly. You are something inexplicable, which is good. I like a little mystery.

I may go for a walk. I am meaning to put things away. Kitchen things and backyard-camping things, laundry (clean and dirty), toys, papers, shoes and mud seem to have gathered, converged, and spread all over our home. Not even Betty can help me with this. I may walk, then put things away. I may skip the walk, and watch something on television. I may change the subject, because even I am getting bored with the pointlessness of this...

Isn't she fortunate? I cannot escape my deep thoughts and other musings, but she can. And she does. Run, Betty. Run!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Playing With Hearts

My creative mojo skipped town, and left no forwarding address. And even though I have the urge, the compulsion, not much has come out of my crafty corner. No quilting. No dresses. No felted thingies, or new scarves. No seashell clocks or macrame mug holders.

Remember Valentine's Day? Some of you never forgot it, I am sure, but I have not dabbled in the Romantic Era in a long time.

Disclaimer: This is not a pity party.

I remember the antsy anticipation, gathering paper, scissors and glue, and a long list of classmates to make Valentine greetings for... hearts, stickers, glitter. I loved seeing the teacher's bulletin board, favoring red and pink, the calendar day marked with a heart. And there were class parties. Punch. Cookies. Candy hearts. And the mail boxes or bags, filling up with treats and greetings and innocent visions of sweet romance.

I don't know how or why, but it seems like there was a lot riding on those tiny cards, the candy hearts with messages. It was fun. Thrilling even.

Makes me smile.

Maybe that is why I answered Bitter Betty's call for an old fashion Valentine exchange. And ever since I asked to play along, I have had hearts on the brain. I look for hearts and scope out the seasonal holiday aisles in the stores. I have been trying to find that feeling, that grade school age giddiness that came with the countdown to Valentine's Day. And I have been trying to zero in on what kind of Valentine I can make and send.

Folding laundry, I found hearts. Then I wondered what other hearts happen to be in and around our home. So, I went looking.

Some hearts are actual "hearts" and some hearts are a feeling, an act that speaks of love, a picture of romance. The times Geoff has filled my car with fuel... I put a big heart around that. When the children are together in the tent, reading aloud, laughing... I put a big heart around that too.

This is the very first time I put a heart on a door. Maria saw the wreath at the craft store, and recalling my own thrill for the holiday, I let her add it to our cart. The bow from our Christmas wreath is getting a second life. Wouldn't the wreath look amazing completely covered in red roses?

Here is another heart that could hold roses, or sweet peas. Sweet peas are my idea of a romantic bloom.

What I need is an idea for a Valentine card... homemade, well made. Not "show-off" well made... just thoughtfully, sweetly well made. I've got "thoughtful" covered. I am thinking about this all the time. But the time for action is upon me.

I even bought heart doilies. I remember when I first saw paper doilies, I felt as though a Queen might enter the room, as though the hostess had magical powers... how else could she conjure such an elegant piece of fancy decor? Nowadays I could probably find a "How It's Made" episode to explain how millions of red paper heart doilies are cut and shipped, but I will never do that, because I like the magic, the mystery.

Inspired by love and by talented women, like Grandma Nancy, I want to make a special Valentine. Several special Valentines. Maybe with fabric, maybe with paper, maybe with photographs... I do not know.

I was kind of amused, sort of surprised, to find as many hearts as I did. Even blossoms in the garden suggested hearts, and Maria running around the house playing... she's like a heart in motion, pink and bursting with a love of life that is quite inspiring.

Nine ringing, tingling hearts. Chiming in the garden.

Betty, I suppose this is my first WIP, my progress report for the Valentines Trade. I am on the verge of making something. Nearly, nearly. I am putting my heart in to this.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Another Six Weeks of Glorious Winter

(image borrowed from the World Wide Interwebs)

In the timeless spirit of making a big deal out of nothing, we are commencing a family tradition of celebrating the fairly unremarkable calendar event known as: Groundhog Day. It is our intention to break up the monotony of a "long" winter, with frivolity, randomness, song and hoopla.

For many years the boys have inquired about this second day of February and the rumored observation of the behaviors of a certain Marmota monax, aka Punxsutawney Phil. Ironically we have consistently marked the occasion by realizing on the third day of February that we had forgotten to tune in and join in the celebration-observance-calendar event. The realization is generally followed by a discussion about the injustice of this not being a real holiday, and school break.

No more. We are taking charge and from this day forward Groundhog Day is real. It will mark the time when we look to the ground and think of the whistle-pig, the tree climbing, able swimmer, burrowing sciurid. We intend to write songs and sing them aloud, preferably around a campfire on Groundhog Eve. We will develop decorations and finalize what will henceforth be traditional Groundhog Day foods.

Ground hog has been suggested as a tasty, if somewhat insensitive, offering. We did have a vegetarian option this morning: Groundcakes: Groundhog shaped pancakes. While they did tend to resemble gophers, cats, bears and rats, we are certain that over time the form and flavor of Groundcakes will become distinctly Groundhoglicious.

I thought I might have to resort to Groundhog initials if my Groundcakes were going to look like bears.

This won't work.

Holidays don't just happen. It takes thought and effort.

So, while I was whipping up a steaming, golden platter of Groundcakes, the boys were waking up in the tent. They spent the night camping in the backyard, a few feet away from where we spent the evening before gathered around a campfire. Smiley and Junie were over for a visit and joined us roasting marshmallows and counting stars.

Real campers, winter campers, deserve Groundcakes for breakfast. And I think this groundhog profile really captures the tasty beauty of the whistle-pig.

A herd?
Flock, covey, posse?
What do they call a pack of groundhogs?
"The collective name for groundhogs is "repetition". The easiest way to remember that is to think of the movie Groundhog Day :)" This came from Jill of "Because the Alternative is Unthinkable."
Awesome, Jill. Thank you.

Yes, we have a lot to learn, a lot to work out in terms of our theme and purpose.

Or do we?

Seriously. I think we are going to accept Groundhog Day as our very own sanctioned yet uniquely personalized unserious calendar event. We have six more weeks of winter, so there may be rain in our future and there may be mornings when we cannot sit on the lawn eating our breakfast. We will bear this as best we can. Do not pity us, please. And we have a whole year ahead of us in which to anticipate the next observation of Groundhog Day... we are very excited about this. Will there be costumes, a band? Maybe just top hats... Should we always pitch a tent, no matter what, and be super obsessive and formal? Is prognostication and weather lore the emphasis, or are we all about enjoying any weather, any season? The possibilities are limitless and so is our humor. I foresee a bright and absurd calendar-event future for us to enjoy.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Las Chicas Norteñas

My prima-once removed was posting the cutest pictures on FB, and I had to ask her if I could please, please have Guerra and Negra over for a visit?

Then I realized Beckie might be thinking that I meant for her to actually drive down from Pasadena with Guerra and Negra, so I went back to FB and clarified that I was thinking of them visiting on Chickenblog... you know, like a guest spot.

But wouldn't it be kind of hilarious if they did ride down, stopped at In-N-Out for a veggie burger, then got here in time for a light dust bath, and a bit of chisme with cracked-corn?

And isn't it nifty that FB can keep family and friends chatting and exchanging deep thoughts and other musings? I think so. Especially when we are far apart. Geoff's FB status is blank, but I see he did pop in to thank everyone for their birthday wishes. Near or far, FB keeps us in the loop.

I am guessing that Negra is the hen with the black scarf. Isn't she elegant? Her fair feathered sister must be Guerra.

Hola Guerra.
Hola Negra.
Pretty chicas.

I think Guerra sees something good to eat.

They remind me of our dear Gracie. She was an Ameraucana, and laid green-blue Easter eggs just like Guerra and Negra. Those colored eggs are so pretty.

Baby pictures.
Even this small, I can see which one is the blondie, and little Negra has her sharp eye on the camera. When Maria sees these she is going to renew her pleading for baby chicks. She really, really wants Betty to "get married and have some babies." Oh my. But when I see these itty-bitty chicas, I kind of think the same thing. Wouldn't some tiny, peeping fluff balls be lots of fun running around the garden...

Besides giving fresh eggs and beautifying their garden, I know that Guerra and Negra hold a place in my cousins' hearts for other reasons. Beckie shared a bit with me:

My Mother got them for her 89th birthday. So, she enjoyed them for more than a year before she passed and went to heaven. They were so tiny and delicate, both could fit in the palm of your hand. They brought her so much joy because they followed her around while she did her yardwork. When she would sit down and take a break, they would happily jump up on her lap...just like a cat! Well Negra and Guerra are wonderful egg layers...gorgeous grade AAA blue green eggs. They are inseperable yet competative should you treat them to a hand full of crickets.

Reading this made me happy, and a bit sad. But mostly I smile and think how wonderful life can be.

Also, if the chicas from up north ever do come to visit I am going to be sure I have a supply of crickets on hand. I never thought to provide such delectables for Lady Betty, but now I know... thank goodness for FB.