Friday, June 10, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment}~A Soule Mama ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, June 09, 2011


My brother, Bill, called yesterday. We had a nice catch-up. The weather. The kids. The chickens.

The chickens?!


Oh, yes. I have another convert! Welcome to the flock, Bill.
(insert maniacal cackle here)

Just kidding.

Bill heard Zoltar crowing while we were on the phone. A few cocka-doodles from this tiny dude, is enough to convince anyone that they do not need to keep a rooster around. I can hold Zoltar in one hand, he is that small, but when he crows he is a manly rooster, four sizes bigger than his otherwise tiny frame. When he gets going, I half expect to see Zoltar deflate, circling around the yard, like a loose balloon.

Rooster, Mini-bot with split single comb. Cocky little dude.

While we are on the subject of roosters, it is time for a fond farewell to three Mini-bots, who it turns out are Robot Roosters!

It's hard to believe that the chicks, hatched from Puff and Zelda's eggs, have already grown and matured. Kamen and the Mini-bots, so tiny, so cute. I feel so fortunate to have enjoyed the experience, watching a hen hatch eggs, care for her young, and seeing them grow.

Rooster, Mini-bot with a raspberry comb, darker gray. Cocky little dude.

As usual with keeping chicks, the big question was: which ones are roosters? We watched every change in feathers, and behavior, and we listened for the tell tale crowing. We really, really hoped that out of five chicks, we would be blessed with many more chicas than chicos, and everyone was especially eager for Kamen to be a chica, a pretty little hen who could stay with us here at the Bird House.

Rooster, Mini-bot with a raspberry comb, lighter gray. Cocky little dude.

Final count: Kamen and one Mini-bot are hens, and are here for keeps. Three Mini-bots are roosters, and are living the good life, somewhere else.

What has not been usual, for us, about these home-hatched chicks, has been the bonding. All other resident chicas were brought home from the feed store and raised by us. We kept them under a heat lamp, fed them, held them, pretended to dig and scratch at the ground to show them how it's done. The chicks we raised know us, connect with us. The chicks raised by Zelda have been amazing to watch, and fun to keep, but they do not care one cracked corn about any of us. They do not come or follow or listen or nuthin'. At least it made it slightly easier to give them up.

And we are so happy we did not have to give up Kamen. She is the softest little henny-penny chickie baby ever I have held. I think we will hold her every day, and maybe she won't be quite so indifferent to our affection, after a few years. Actually, once she got over the initial indignation of being scooped up, she mellowed out a lot. I believe she is a Polish Silkie, daughter of Edison and Puff.

And here is our Mini-she-bot, who maybe we can call She-bot or Sheba. I am guessing she is also a Polish Silkie, daughter of Edison and Zelda.

Both Kamen and Shebot are happy and adjusting well. I think everyone is enjoying the quieter mornings. Four roosters - three roosters = quieter mornings. Amen.

So, Bill. For your yard, I recommend about three hens. And if you can raise them from chicks, it is worthwhile and fun. I love the Silkies... small and mild, they would fit in nicely in your home.

Of course, a nice big, clucky hen, like Lady Betty Orpington, is great fun. She is a real sweetie pie, quite the social butterfly.

Puff and Zelda are not pictured in today's post, because their pictures were too blurry. They are pretty girls, but do not cooperate for the camera.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Chango is a Gato

A chango is a monkey, en español. Our Chango is a cat... a cat that has always reminded me of a monkey. He climbs trees, and his long, black tail balances his jumps and leaps, expresses his emotions, sways rhythmically, or stands upright like an aerial antenna ready to receive the waves and transmissions current in the airstream. He is wild. He is mild. He drinks from the tap.

Novio-Boy, my mommy calls him. Which makes perfect sense until I try to explain it, and it comes out as "boyfriend-boy," which sounds as though it does not make sense, but language does not translate as well as sentiment. And sentiment says, he is a Novio-Boy

He sleeps by my side, or above my head. He gets jumpy, skittish, nervioso. He hears the coyotes, then stands, his legs steady, his tail ready... he wants a tree to leap into. He is never completely at ease. Almost never. Sometimes he shows his belly, and his generous soul, his trust, makes me want to purr. He loves us. In spite of his fears, his unspoken torments, he loves us, and he wants to sleep beside us, to love, and be loved.

Chango biddy Bongo, my wild monkey cat, I love you.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Picnics and Parasols

It fits! Maria's new dress is hemmed, and twirling. Success. I do the sewing... she's the stylist.

Now it's complete, I can appreciate the little changes I can make to improve the fit and finish, but those details are minor compared with how she feels about her swirly-twirly, dancing, picnic dress. Even Benjamin is a smitten kitten for her joyful revelry.

Singing in the rain, anyone? It's been raining pretty parasols here... we keep finding these 3$ treasures at the local thrift shops. Too pretty to pass up.

What a glorious feelin'
I'm happy again
I'm laughing at clouds
So dark up above
The sun's in my heart
And I'm ready for love
Let the stormy clouds chase
Everyone from the place
Come on with the rain
I've a smile on my face
I walk down the lane
With a happy refrain
Just singin',
Singin' in the rain

Picnic Dress for Summers

Happy Birthday Mommy-Delia-Grandma BooBoo!

Besides, wishing I could be with my mommy on her birthday, I have been thinking of how much I love her, how much she has taught me, and inspired in me. I still remember, fondly, hovering around her while she was sewing, and the anticipation of having something new and pretty made by her, my mommy.

Maria was hovering around me when I started this dress yesterday, and I enjoyed her giddiness, and recalling my own. I feel so blessed to remember these happy feelings, and to relive them in this new way.

On an Oregon visit three years ago, I found a red gingham dress, with smocking, and a very full, wrap around skirt. I love second-hand shops! Maria has worn this dress for three years, the last time on her field trip... it's too small really... a bit snug, a bit short, but still quite a bit a favorite. So, I measured, and traced, and adjusted for growth, and kind of pretended to know what I was doing... and I have managed to recreate the wrap dress with full skirt. No smocking, but a bit of cherry-red ric rac peaking up at the bodice waste. The fabric is a heavier weight cotton ("picnic" The Alexander Henry fabric collection, 2006). I finished the edges with a single fold bias tape. A few spots I would change if I dared to try this again... learning as I go, just like in the rest of life! All that's left to complete the dress is doing the hem, which I decided to do by hand, because I don't want to have a pronounced seam.

Mom, you had a sewing machine trick for using a stitch that caught the hem at intervals and gave it a very nice finish... it had something to do with how you folded the hem while sewing it. I wish I could remember how that was done. I will never stop learning from you, needing you, missing you.

This is the front, or is it? I am kind of liking the bright red bow, and kimono style wrap... it would make a pretty dress front. Yesterday the bodice was barely complete, and the rest I worked on this morning. I maybe should have done one more fitting before racing ahead. oops Hope it fits. For a long time. I know she will eventually out grow this dress too, but I hope she keeps her giddiness, her love of picnics, and swirling across the lawn... I have.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Excuse Note: A Tutorial

Our computer died, and one of our resident scholars, up at four a.m. to print school assignments had her/his day completely derailed by this unfortunate, yet common, incident.

So, we needed a note to teachers, a plea for mercy and compassion. One of my many roles, as a responsible and dedicated parental unit, is to write notes to teachers. These notes must be succinct, engaging, informative, sincere. They must convey sufficient authority as to be convincing, to gain sympathy, but not to suggest that the student has a free pass for every sniffle, for every broken pencil. Do not under any circumstance libel label yourself as the dread: Helicopter Parent!

I wrote a good one. I think so. Even though I was up in the pre-dawn, trying to Google help for a Dell computer emitting four rapid beeps (the beeps mean something... who knew?!) Anyways, I like totally wrote a good note. I think it covered the points, made a clear case for forgiveness, clarified our demands request, and was mostly free of major spelling errors. (Patting self on the back.)

Maybe I shouldn't have had the real coffee this morning.

Anyway. Many of the blogs that I read, bloggers that I am in awe of... they post tutorials, helpful lessons in crafting and parenting, how-to's that make lives better. And it occurred to me that my note could help some other mom or dad, faced with the same or a similar crisis. I tried to make this a PDF file, so you could upload it, print it, use it often, but this proved to be a task beyond my capabilities (it was only a half-caf coffee... my super powers seem to be waning already). Below is the note. I changed the names, to protect the innocent because I don't want to get in trouble with the principal. So. Copy it. Use it. Live long and prosper. May the force be with you.

___Horatio_______________ 's (insert name of industrious, honest, brilliant student here) first and second period teachers:
______Horatio_________(same student name, let's be consistent) completed, and saved, school work on our home computer, but unfortunately this computer died overnight.

_____Bill Gates______________(insert name of authoritative sounding parental/guardian unit here) is working to revive the machine, but in the meantime ________Horatio_________ (same darling student) is short on time to replace assignments s/he cannot yet retrieve.

I am asking you to please allow her/him library time and access to a school computer so that s/he can make an attempt at replacing those missing assignments. I apologize for the inconvenience, and I know you can appreciate the aggravation of living in this modern age.

To ____Horatio______'s (same grateful student) teacher(s) anticipating assignments from ______Horatio________: (still the same college bound scholar) I hope you can allow for a delay, as s/he has in earnest endeavored to complete her/his homework, but has been beleaguered by technological retrogression. The fault really is with our computer.


_________Mrs. Betty Orpington Gates____________________
Concerned (dedicated, exhausted, confused, absent, perky, hovering, exuberant etc...) Parent

**WOW: word of the week**
Retrogression: return to a former and less complex level of development or organization. Also known as: computer error.


June 4, 2011

September, 1994. Madison, Wisconsin. Franklin Avenue. In the backyard.
Time and place, when I first saw a peony.
It was unforgettable.

Not a rose, nor a camellia, yet familiar. Something like a dahlia, or ranunculus, suggestive of a tulip when closed, but abundant of petals, like a zinnia, when open. The petals, crinkled like crepe paper, yet so silky and supple... an oil painting in flesh. Inside, like a poppy, bold and complex.

I have never seen any in a garden here, though I am sure they are nurtured and coaxed somewhere in California. Mine came from Trader Joe's, and today I am bringing home a fresh bouquet.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Six, and a half

Thursday, June 2, 2011

She is six and half years old.
Not a baby, or a toddler. Our youngest child, but growing so fast it hurts a little bit. I know there are years ahead, and plenty to look forward too. I know too that the time we have is fleeting.

On her field trip to Old Town, while eating her peach... I noticed the gap. The tiny space where the wriggly little tooth sat... It must have gone with the peach! What a shame,and I thought for a moment of the box my cousin Beckie de LR gave us at the baby shower, the pretty one for the first baby tooth, and of the tooth fairy pillow from cousin Julie... waiting expectantly for this occasion.

But, happening like this, the loss of her first tooth is perhaps even more memorable than if things had gone as anticipated. Her girlfriends, Macy and Aurora, Mia, Sophia... they noticed and exclaimed, and they all exchanged shocked and awed expressions about the whereabouts of the lost tooth. Their faces were priceless. Maria was sad, then shy, then amused. Her friends hopeful, the tooth fairy would not forsake her.

The tooth fairy did not forsake her. Maybe the lovely letter and picture Maria made for the fairy did the trick, or maybe because it's me. I am the tooth fairy. Maria guessed this, with a proud new grin, and she thinks it's lovely that her very own mommy makes magic happen for her. Oh, time. It really is fleeting.