Saturday, June 22, 2013

Remembering June 9, 2006

Adam, Alex, and Nick

I remember this wild day, seven years ago, when we had a really fun celebration of Alex's twelfth birthday. My brother, Bill, got us in touch with his friend, Ben... and Ben came with a van full of his amazing collection of exotic pets. Amazing. The funny thing, now, is not how big that snake is, but how big and mature, and grown-up these three boys are... all of the children in this memorable post!

Adam graduated from high school!

Alex is out of high school, too, and just finished a very successful first college year.

Nick is done with junior high, and enjoyed a winning basketball season.

Jacob is a graduate of UCLA.

Tamsyn is traveling around, after enjoying her first year studying in Edinburgh.

William continues studying computer graphics, and has gained some great construction skills.

Max has finished a very successful first year of high school.

Izzy, the bitty baby in this post, is in grade school!

And Maria is today on the brink of being a third grader!

The memories are fun, and the future is promising.

Friday, June 21, 2013

I Just Want To Sew

Yesterday I slipped into a state of blissful contentment. I was pressing fat quarters, turning their edges, and sewing them in preparation for these kitchen cloths I am so fond of crocheting. I used to feel apologetic for not having a precise and rational excuse for making them, but now I know how nice they are to have around... to cover baked bread, or a bowl of rising dough, to cover any food at a picnic, as large napkins, as a hostess gift. And the process of making them puts me in a mellow-meditative trance, which is good, too. I plan on bringing some of these on a flight this summer, so my mind can be soothed and distracted... perfect beginning to a vacation, I think!

I was so pleased with my industry! And this in spite of the fact that my industry was not applied where it is actually needed. Do you ever have one of those days when you don't tackle the very necessary jobs, but instead zone-out with something horribly meaningless, and then come to the end of the day with nothing to show for it, but dread, guilt, and regret? No? Me neither. Well. Yesterday, at the end of the day, I had no regrets, (and only a smattering of dread, never mind that bit,) but I also had twelve pressed and stitched kitchen cloths, and a quilt ever closer to completion, so yeah!

I employed the hands of all the resident and visiting peoples and got them to help me sandwich the quilt top I finished. The bottom is a buttery smooth, flat sheet of organic cotton. The middle is an old Ikea comforter. Alex helped me choose a coffee'n'cream colored sheet. It looks warm and cozy next to the red edging and binding, and it will wear well for a quilt bound for the barn and backyard picnics. It was a big job that I was sure would be a tad frustrating to do alone, but with help from Celine, James, Alex, and Max it was so easy, and fast! And in spite of Mister Foo attacking me at regular intervals, I even managed to begin tacking it with embroidery floss. Little ties. Little ties. Lots and lots of little ties!

It's so soft and lofty! Benjamin agrees! I wasn't going to post about it again... not until it's actually finished. I guess sharing is fun, too hard to resist. And besides, look at Benjamin, all handsome and whiskery, and dear. I couldn't not share pictures of a handsome kitty.

Hello, handsome kitty.

Today. Today I should make a list, and do stuff from the list. Seriously. Purposefully. Diligently, and devotedly.

Recently I read that a good writer avoids alliteration.

Well. We won't wonder wether I would weather the whims of a writer's review!

Oh, dear. I have wandered from my purposeful path, again.

A List of The Very Important and Undeniably Urgent Duties of Natalie, the Chickenblogger:

Get the mail
Look for Suki's mail
Remind Suki that she has two closets full of things she may want to claim

Pay bills
Collect the wool roving Mysterious Foo has been tearing and dragging everywhere
Get new tires for the Jet Puff
Have Jet Puff tuned, and adjusted, and cleaned
Make front office into a lovely bedroom for Grandmother
Delegate chores and labors to children...

I am going to stop here. There's more, but I just spent the last five minutes pretending to think of "important things," which really amounts to daydreaming and gazing out the window, which might be construed as slacking, procrastination. I need to get things done, and if I am going to be a slacker, well, I'd rather be sewing than gazing.

{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, June 19, 2013

Summer Shift

My, we're eager for summer. There's no respect for spring. Everyone's talking about summer this and summer that. And poor spring, first pummeled by a winter that overstayed its welcome, and now shuffled off the scene by all of us insisting on a new season. A hot, flowery, sunny, bright, summery season.

Sorry, spring. The watermelons and cucumbers are sending up tendrils, the pool is open, and school is practically out. Spring, you have until Friday, and then your time is really up. We'll see you next year. And thanks for the rain.

A bit early, Maria is wearing a new summer dress. I based it on the first summer dress I made for her, and goodness! that was some time ago! I left off the cap sleeves on this version, though the shoulders are well covered. The sides are generously cut, with deep slits, so she can run more freely. I finished the collar by hand, with an embroidery floss blanket stitch. I am so tempted to make one two more! The second one is always easier, and I have some other pretty prints that would be fun to see running around in the sun.

We barely made it to school today. Neither of us sees much point in going in, actually. Even in school, there is a lax and fuzzy attitude, and it seems like there are more parties and favors than studies. We were happy here, this morning, enjoying our own party... playing with Mister Foo, enjoying our chai, laughing at the goats, and discussing our summer plans! We're so close!

And We Shall Call Him...

Kitty. Kitty, wake up. We have a name for you. It's official and everything.

Everyone, this is Mister Washburn Foo.

Aka... Wash, Mister Foo, Mysterious Foo, Ninja, That Cat, Kitty Foo, Señor Foo, Misifu, and...

Snoozy Foo.

He weighs 4 lbs and 3 oz, and his heart and tummy sound good, and all is right in his world. We are so pleased.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Good Morning

It sure was fun to introduce our latest farm project to the family. It's been such a long time coming, and is now such a marvelous convenience, giving us more time, and peace of mind... and one more thing: hours of amusement! We love to sit in the open air barn, our chicken-rabbit-goat run, and observe all the daily interactions and activities. It's fun to bring them fresh scraps from the kitchen, and greens from the yard. It's fun watching them take apart a pumpkin, peck at raisins, dig up a pot of damp soil.

And they seem to like watching, too. Tucked in a corner of the chicken's coop-cottage, Penny was busy on her nest, but she watched all the action... Mister Foo's visit, and the bunnies hopping around.

No one's home. Good time for an explore!

He's such a silly kitten. We say, he's half Ninja, sneaking and sly, but then a bunny or hen walks up behind him and he leaps out of his polka dots from the shock and surprise!

There is still one last pumpkin, sitting on a stump in the garden. And now our new pumpkins are spreading out in the garden, green vines and big leaves. This pumpkin fell, and split. I was surprised to discover the goats liked it even more than the chickens.

They couldn't even be bothered to smile for the camera!

The rabbits were not a bit interested in the pumpkin. They could not be happier with their new found freedom. They come, and go. They explore, and rest. Malcolm comes to me when I sit on the old wood box. We pet him, and pluck the clumps of his soft winter coat... he doesn't need that now! Then, off he trots to find new things to sniff, and scratch at. Inara, too, is a happy free-ranging bunny. I wonder if they'll ever live in the hutch again.

Everyone seems to have settled in quite nicely.

Good morning!

Monday, June 17, 2013


There are plenty of reasons for us to get together... birthdays, safe returns... but I think it's enough to just want to spend time together, to catch up. Delia was with Bill and Alison last week, spending time together, marking some birthdays. Now she is in Pasadena with her mom and sister, and nieces. This weekend we got to have some time, here, with Delia, Eunice, Beckie, Rebekah, and Julie, and Hans and Gretchen happened to be between training sessions, so they joined us, too!

Maria and her great-grandmother Eunice

Maria was so excited to take her Great Grandma out to the chicken run to see our latest project. She even found an egg for abuela.

Aunt Becky came in, too. It's nice on the goat side, since Geoff put in those two chairs. Now he can sit with the goats and remind them not to eat his shoe laces, his shorts, his shirt... It's nice. It's not relaxing, exactly.

If you want to relax, you have to go inside, and if Mister Foo is drowsy, you'll have the perfect excuse to get comfortable. My cousin, Rebekah, got a lovely dose of woozy Foo.

Then Gretchen and Hans got to share in some snoozy Foo. More family... he was soaking it up! Who's next?

Maria and her grandmother Delia, Grandma Boo, giving Mister Foo another dose.

As it happens, there were some birthdays to celebrate. And for some unknown reason we make you open your gifts at the front door, as you're leaving, while people are waiting in the car. Gosh. Are we out of practice, or something!? Hans and Gretchen found great gifts for Mom. I think they're going to come in handy for the rest of her travels and return, here.

Mister Foo wasn't the only one doted on. Maria loves the company of her aunties, Julie, and Rebekah.

Gretchen laying some sugar on Mister Foo. He gets so excited about being outside (under close supervision), his whole body quivers with eager pleasure.

And out come the goats, who are remarkably indifferent to the rider they picked up. As long as there is something to chew, I guess they have a high tolerance for weird.

This picture is so silly. And it's funny, too, because Mister Foo suddenly looks like a small cat, or a large kitten. Sitting on a little goat really changes his relative size.

Gotta break out the metal detector. Someday, my wedding band will show up. It's not lost. I know it's in the backyard. Somewhere.

Gretchen and Hans, with Julie, and Maria.

Only one regret, but it's a big one: we should have taken more pictures!

They don't all have to be with Mister Foo, or goats, or chickens, but we definitely should have taken more family pictures. You hear that, everyone? Get back here, and let's make more memories!

Chez Berry Face

When she isn't swimming, reading, puttering in the garden, reading maps, searching through Wikipedia, operating the metal detector, collecting specimens, or drawing... you might find Maria in the kitchen, developing a new recipe, or hoping to help with dinner. She is a good sous chef. And if you haven't heard, she will be opening a restaurant someday. She has the name picked out, and regularly discusses the specific business plans and menu details. This discussion has been going on for four years. Her dedication is remarkable.

Here's a little preview of her latest culinary endeavors, and technique. She begins with some locally grown, organic berries... she's good that way, and then she found grapes (organic, too, because sometimes you cannot make an exception,) almonds, and toothpicks. She slices the grapes, pokes them through with the toothpicks, and adds the details with almond slivers.

Berry happy face!

Make your reservations early, and arrive hungry. Maria's place is going to be special.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


I greatly admire the men who love children, their children, or the children they've chosen to care for, mentor, spend time with, look out for. They have time, and skills, compassion, interests, and ideas, and when they lend those gifts and qualities to the young people in their lives, they can make a world of difference... a good difference. I have been fortunate to know such men, to be in their circle of care, to be loved... its significance carries a profound awe for me.

And one of the very best blessings of my life has been sharing parenting with Geoff, watching him be a father, a mentor, a friend, a loving and caring man. There are a lot of things I can say about "ideal fathers," but there are some essential things that are significantly meaningful to me about a good father... he sticks around, he keeps trying, he can put his children's needs ahead of his own and often does, he stays engaged, and wants to be with his children. Sometimes this can even happen from afar, and you know where you can turn when you need support, guidance. Mistakes happen, poor choices are made, hard choices, too, but when you see a man stick around, want to make amends, dedicated to getting it right, and really caring about who you are, where you want to go, and loving you... that's good fathering.

I am only scratching the surface, of something deeply personal. But I don't want it left unsaid: Geoff, I love watching you be a father. And I love that through this experience I have been able to see, recognize, and appreciate all the men I know, have known, who have shared time, skills, compassion, interests and ideas with children, with me. You all are making a very good difference.