Saturday, October 29, 2011

All Hallow's Art and Play

Alex decided to create an event at school: The Five Days of Halloween. He and Suki put it up on FB. The idea is to wear a different costume, every day, from October 31st through November 4th! Challenging... but who doesn't appreciate a good challenge, right?

Halloween :: What I Like
Creativity, the transition from summer into Autumn, harvest and natural cycles, gathering, dressing up, alter-egos, fantasies, getting a harmless thrill or chill, the look, smell, feel, taste, and sound of pumpkins, the smell of cold air and spices, and Tootie, "the most horrible!"

Skip the gruesome, slasher, mean, ugly, absurdly commercialized, over s.e.x.e.d., too scary for small children to play, mega-merchandising stuff that is taking over the aisles... meh.

I like Maria's refrigerator industry... she taught herself how to make the chain of ghosts. And talk about creepy... Sponge Bob cupcake paper snowflakes!? She cracks me up!

Maria also designed this pumpkin... fun-kin. We went to MNO together, and in Vera's gorgeous home, B had a project for all of us to craft with: painting and decoupaging on foam pumpkins. As soon as Maria saw the leaf print, she wanted to make a tree covered in Fall color. I penciled a trunk, she painted, and together we glued on the leaves we tore and cut. Then she thought a bird should sit in the tree, and more could fly above. It was fun being partners. It was wonderful spending an evening out with generous, supportive, funny, creative women.

Then last night Holly and Ruth brought Nick and Izzy over. They also brought dinner. This makes two nights in a row when I did not cook... kind of a treat! The plan was to carve pumpkins. The reality was... relaxing, laughing, catching up, enjoying good wine, and playing office with Izzy and Maria. It got too late for carving, but I don't think anyone was too disappointed. It's nice to just go with the flow.

Nick stayed for a sleepover, and while the boys watched a favorite suspense series, Geoff, Maria and I brought out paints, glitter, brushes, and paper masks. This morning the activity is carrying over, and Alex has joined us.

I think Geoff's mask is strongly influenced by his metal shop class. It looks really cool. I'll show Maria's when it's finished and dry.

Día de los Muertos. I found skeletal masks at the craft store, and was inspired to let my brush and paint just go with the flow! I have to say, glitter and flowers are an interesting, expressive therapy.

Geoff just walked in to show me his Threepio Flirts With the Dark Side mask.
It. is. epic. I think we are going to have to open a gallery. Alex has been making all kinds of masks. Who remembers The Marvelous Wax Museum? I think a Máscara Museum would be a marvelous finish to this Five Days of Halloween season.

Autumn School and Unschool Days

Our Fall Break has been a blessing. It has been fun, and busy, and full. It's had its bumps, and the usual chores, but I think we've managed gracefully enough. I am really, really trying to put Monday morning out of my mind, because I am not ready for back to school.

However! I am thrilled to say: All the childrens and scholars, artists, and engineers living in this here Bird House have wonderful schools, with wonderful opportunities. Thank you.

Big. Big. BIG Thank you!

William, and Geoff are enjoying their welding and metals class. William brought home a sample for me to admire. And he's been explaining to me the differences between electric -arc welding, gas -oxy acetylene welding, and tig welding -tungsten inert gas welding! Each type has its challenges and purposes. It's interesting... Alex prefers gas welding, William leans toward arc welding, and Geoff is figuring out TIG. TIG is for aluminum. He's asked me if I would like an aluminum framed chicken coop. Answer: yes, please! And a stall for my goat too, please. I love seeing William get more and more comfortable with this new venture, and knowing that he is already imagining the possibilities.

Max is in an old new school. He attended Montessori for a bit, back in second grade, part of third. Now he has returned to finish junior high. The best part: he is happy. He's happy! This happiness he is experiencing is a blessing, a relief, a joy, a gift. He talks about classes, and what he is enjoying. He seems comfortable, and at ease. Not to overstate this, but seeing him feel comfortable, and interested, engaged, it is truly a marvelous pleasure.

The senior. Alex. Art is ever more his passion, and he continues to branch out, making friends, and participating in activities. He is in a school that makes people wish they were back in high school. I never wished such a thing, until I got to know this school. Alex has great friends, and great teachers, and plenty of opportunities to explore his interests... all of which makes it bitter sweet in my mind, because this is his last year there, with those great people. And... and will this be our last year with him, here, in our home? He is in college app mode, and the reality is setting in. Oh my.

And what about Suki? She's a senior too! And what if Suki and Alex both go far, far away to kawledge? (Time to implement Operation Hover Mother: get them in the same school, move to that town, and enroll with them. OHM is top secret. Shhhh)

Maria is happy too. So, really, sending her back isn't all so bad. I love our days together, and I have a very good handle on just how fleeting this time is. So, with this in mind... I am off to the kitchen where we have a breakfast to whip up, and some masks to finish painting. The mask in these pictures we saw in a second-hand store, and now we are painting our own masks, adding glitter too, of course.

Friday, October 28, 2011

{this moment}

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.
:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Some Pumpkins

Let's see now... we left off our story with banjo playing, and chile rellenos for dessert... and we were about to commence with some pumpkin carving!

So many pumpkins! I am weak for pumpkins. Pumpkins should have its own category and label in Chcikenblg Chickenblog. Trader Joe's makes it so easy, so affordable. But this year, we will plant seeds, and tend them, and protect them! And grow our very own pumpkin patch, then probably buy just a few more at Trader Joe's because they make it so easy, so affordable.

Maria's pumpkin came from school, where she colored a face, so she was all set to carve her Jack-o-Lantern. Could she look more happy and eager? Now, there's a pumpkin face!

Alex stepped in to cut off the pumpkin's lid. This year I skipped the tools flooding the market for this activity. They always junk out on us. I bought wood carving tools from our local craft store, and it made all the difference.

Good Tools = Better Results

After an entire summer of carving, William felt right at home with tools in his hands and a specimen to cut away at. His thorough knowledge of the history of tombstones came in handy as well.

We kept calling the kitties in, because the coyotes were out. Those haunting coyote calls gave us the chills. Plus, Chango was missing his chance to sample all those delicious pumpkin guts that he loves.

Homer stayed close by, though the bunnies skampering across the lawn were vexing him. When we weren't tempted by rellenos, we all remained very industrious in our pumpkin carving.

Very intent in our pursuit.

Maria's Pumpkin Moonshine!
She is so delighted by the book "Pumpkin Moonshine." In fact, she is utterly enchanted by all things from from and about Tasha Tudor.

I call this profit. I salt them and roast them, then eat them. Dirty. All the pumpkinness adds flavor. Roasted pumpkins seeds are scrumptious.

Here swims Suki's angler fish. Nom-nom-nom-nom... she is looking for something scrumptious to bite!

Maria, happy to assist her daddy in his artistic pursuit of pumpkin majesty.

Yes, the wood carving tools were a wise move. Good for cutting, good for carving, and gouging. We still used knives for the initial deep cuts, and spoons to scoop and thin the interior.

There's Homer! And the kitties all made it safely home, and we did our best to disregard the chilling call of those coyotes.

When I told Eli how cute his Jack-o-Lantern's smile was, he went directly back to the carving table, stating: "He's supposed to be deranged.

Well done, Eli. He is deranged, in a cute way!

William's winged skull, and my kitty. I seem to be on an impish kitty spree! All the Pumpkin Moonshines lit from within and looking splendid... what fun!

And with still more pumpkins on hand, we are ready and willing to play again!

Monday, October 24, 2011

So Many Topics!

I will never have a successful blog.

The End.

It's true. Every article on blogging success leads with the same suggestion: maintain a focus, keep it to a particular, or few, subjects matters. Do not wander off course. The second bit of advice they should offer: include animals... cats, kittens, puppies, dolphins saving puppies etc.

A handsome kitty picture may be the salvation of this blog.

In other news, yesterday we combed the city looking for caramels, lost our apples, made chile rellenos, had a double blind root beer tasting, carved pumpkins, stuffed ourselves silly with rellenos, listened to banjo playing, and washed some dishes. And, so if a successful blog relies on focus, then *phttttttttt* I embrace my epic atypical blog.

Besides all the hub-bub and activity, the day was punctuated with Maria asking, "When do we bring out the beer?" "Is it time to taste the beer?" "Are we all drinking beer?" "There is so much beer. "Will I have some beer too?" And somebody, everybody, saying Root! Root. Root beer!

Do you like root beer?
Do you call it beer, or soda, or pop, soda pop, or fizzy water, or sugar juice, or battery acid, or old-timey bubble liquor?
Do you see a favorite in our line-up? There are two varieties missing: Barq's, and Hansens.*

*Regretfully, no one is paying me for promotion of any of this here old-timey bubble liquor. All selections were randomly, unceremoniously, yet respectfully, grabbed at our favorite market in the whole wide world: Major Market.**

**Regretfully, no one is paying me for promotion of Major Market, our favorite market in the whole wide world.

Focus, Chickenblogger. Focus!

Right. Okay. Where was I?

Double Blind Root Beer Taste Test. Almost. I sort of did know which sodas were which, but honestly my memory is flaky, and by the time we had the bottles wrapped, and dinner in the oven, I had no idea we were even holding a Double Blind Root Beer Taste Test, so it was pretty authentic as far as objective, scientific testing goes.

Folks, this was serious business.

Solemn. Science is not for the weak. The soda labels were hidden from everyone's view, the cups were numbered. We took notes. We nibbled saltines to cleanse our taste buds palettes.

Suki: artist, homecoming queen, musician, part-time sign flipper, likes loves chile rellenos.

William: artist, foamologist, welding student, sous chef, philosopher, can musically recant all the words to Albi the Racist Dragon, loves and prepares chile rellenos.

Alex: man of many faces, artist, can musically recant all the words to Albi the Racist Dragon, cook, tailor, robot designer.

Max: mathematician, cat whisperer, swimmer, reader, movie projectionist, artist, loves crispy tacos.

Maria: robot designer, fashion designer, pumpkin carver, member of FIRST 2102 Team Paradox, ballerina, song writer, sword fighter, artist, super taster.

Jessica: musician, grant writer, board member: Guitars In The Classroom, teacher, dog lover, procurer of one more root beer variety.

Geoff: programmer, artist, loves chile rellenos a lot-bunch-mucho, welding student, whistler, gamer, engineer, tennis player.

Natalie: Chickenblogger, cook, gardener, chicken wrangler, loves to laugh, easily amused, tends to lose her focus, dedicated... to all sorts of stuff.

Music provided by:

Eli: banjo player, ocarina player, guitar player, mandolin player, ukulele player, president of the ukulele club, robot designer, artist, not a soda drinker.

Shall we begin?

We sampled ten different root beers. We nibbled a lot of crackers.

By the time we got to root beer number ten, the bubbles were going to our heads. I was a bit worried that they would basically all start to taste the same, but we were noting distinctions, and detecting subtleties.

Utterances included: "I taste vanilla," "this one is soapy," "are those hints of spice?" Some varieties also inspired: "Chemically aftertaste," "I'd buy this," "super fizzy," and "blech!"

I don't usually hand over my camera. I can't believe I handed over my camera.

"Hey, you, guy with my camera, careful there."

I can't believe she let him use the camera.

Okay. So. I could tell you the results of our Double Blind Root Beer Taste Test, but then you might be biased by our tastes and preferences. Maybe you are thinking of hosting your own scientific-super-terrific Double Blind Root Beer Taste Test and you don't want our results to color your opinion. So. For now, we will withhold our analysis and statistics, until we hear from you.

And, while we are waiting to hear from you, we will eat chile rellenos, and we will carve pumpkins, and we will play our music, sing our songs.

Suki may compose a song for us, something about lost apples, a quest for caramels, and how delicious chile rellenos are for dessert.

Thank you. And happy Monday!