Saturday, August 31, 2013

Thirty Days Hath September

This comes from a post my friend Jennifer shared. She's right... it really is "short and super sweet," and it's a TED Talk so it's practically guaranteed to be either inspiring, or enlightening, or both. Jennifer invited friends to join her in the month of September (wholly-guacamole, that's tomorrow!), to choose something to do every day for thirty days. "No rules," she reminded me, "so, no concept of cheating! Do what's meaningful to you."

You guys, help me not over-think this. I really want to start and finish something. The TED Talk motivates me, and Jennifer inspires me, and I think I need something to shake me up!

Coincidentally, I was browsing a certain sight that's always Pin-Interesting, and my friend Katie S. pinned a link to an article about 10 things you can do to be happy in your home. I almost want to cringe, because it's a list, and a self-help-aspirtation-motivational list, to boot. The truth is, I am such a cotton-head ninny muggins, I loath and rebel and squirm while rolling my eyes when I see self-help-aspirtation-motivational lists. But this list is short, and not preachy, and at least half of them made a small voice in my spleen say, "Uh-huh, you should totally do that. In fact, I even did #8.

I still have to decide what I will challenge myself to do everyday for thirty days. Jennifer is taking a photograph a day, which I love, but that hardly would count as a challenge for me, because taking pictures is my daily go-to thing. I hope Jennifer posts her 30 day challenge at her blog. I am trying to shake things up, so I want to open another door for this challenge. Also, I don't know if I am sharing this here... maybe sometimes, or maybe all the time, just so it keeps me transparent-honest-on track. I dunno.

What about you? What do you want to try? Something new, something daring? Something comforting? I think this could be more fun if we try it together.

1:02 pm
Just some thoughts...
:: 30 days of art lessons
:: 30 days of home projects
:: 30 days of walking
:: 30 days of sewing
:: 30 days of no sugar (oh, man... I crack myself up)
:: 30 days of photography (only one picture a day... serious challenge)
:: 30 days of learning something

5:23 pm
Still thinking, in spite of the heat and humidity...
:: Chicken portrait a day (I'll need to get 17 more chickens. Jest kidding. I swear.)
:: 30 days of postcards... a message, a stamp, and sent out (I love this. But I loath going to the P.O. [definitely headed toward hermit status])

Friday, August 30, 2013

{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.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Foo or Foolish... Embarrassing Truth

I am watching Foo. He's finally learned how to jump up and stay up. It's miraculous. For the longest time, in his short, young life, he would leap and fail. Jump and fall. Aim and miss. Every single time. He would hunker down into the pounce position, scan upward and focus, then he would go for it, but he would all too often miss his mark. He couldn't nail the landing, and I'd watch him slide, unceremoniously down, down, down to the ground.

But now... now he's hopped up with feline grace, onto the hand railing, even the sloped section where the railing follows up the first three steps to the landing. Nimbly he steps, paw over paw, a cat on a tightrope. He is at the perfect age and size. Not too big, or heavy, not disinterested. He is curious and capable, still willing to risk embarrassment. This is a moment in time to take notice and admire his featly, feline, lissom, lithesome, fleet-footed Fooness. Dare I say? What an elegant puss.

Sometimes I still find myself waiting to be grown-up, to be competent, some variety of successful. I long for tangible evidence that I can nail a landing, and at the risk of embarrassing myself, I do keep trying. Intellectually, I have come to realize that in life there is no cap and gown moment, when we are handed a diploma and officially sanctioned as a graceful, capable being, worthy of admiration, respect, acceptance in the adult realm, and vaguely confident of our significance or worth. Emotionally, I am not so sure, and this doubt and frustration is a problem for me. I long for that moment when I feel I have nailed a landing, made a mark, achieved success.

But in reality, it's a journey, right? We keep moving forward. Perhaps in a Cha-cha? 2, 3, cha-cha-cha.

(I think it's hilarious for me to use a dance metaphor, because I cannot dance. Those steps, the very concept of rhythm, these confound me. "Tempo," "harmony," "steps," "rhythm," "in tune," "in synch..." all, sadly, not in my DNA. I digress. Digressions are in my DNA.)

Perhaps, too, even admitting that I feel this uncertainty, this expectation of a moment when I will simply know, should be embarrassing. Well, it is embarrassing. Actually, blogging is often terribly embarrassing. I am like a cat, a little too old, a little too heavy, and though I feel I am an introverted, shy cat, a quiet and domestically orientated cat, I regularly scan upward, crouch, and leap for some height that I am bound to miss, and then I fall down, down, down to the ground. Yes, that is one way blogging feels, like standing in a public square, hoping to nail a landing, and quite regularly falling short.

Older cats embarrass. They fall, too, but unlike Foo, who shakes it off and tries again, an older cat looks around, hoping he was not noticed, and walks away as though he was never awkward, foolish, clumsy, seen.

So. Am I a Foo, or just some old cat? Though I risk finding myself in awkward fixes, uncomfortable moments, I cannot seem to stop reaching. I keep stepping out into this public square and trying to dance, and I cannot say why.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Life With Foo and The Picnic Quilt

Progress on the quilt has been surprisingly steady. I say surprising, because it's a lot of work to hand stitch something this large, and because I am seldom ever alone. I work in sections, with a large wooden hoop that I can rest on my lap, with the quilt draping around my legs, onto the floor. Loose threads are everywhere, and even the thread I pull makes a distinct and beckoning sound as it is tugged through the fabrics... a sound that beckons cats. For Chango, it is an invitation to sit beside me, and he is also inclined to plop himself in the middle of my work. Benjamin is less invasive. He is content to be nearby without actually being a part of the activity. And then there is Mister Washburn Foo...

Washburn Foo, master of mischief, hears the pull and tug of the quilting thread and come bounding forth.

He loves the threads dangling from the fraying fabric edges, the birds in flight, the chance to meddle assist.

Sometimes, he comes in undetected, from the floor, up and under the hoop, where he waits for me to bring the needle through so he can help it along. It's so dark under there! But he has Foo Vision and sees all. I cannot continue sewing. He's scratching and clawing at every pulse and motion.

He crawls out from under to see why progress has come to a halt. What's happening? I thought we had something good here." And for good measure, he bites the safety pens.

Somehow, I have managed to quilt around all of the birds, some of the flowers, and around the checkerboard.

I still need to finish quilting the checkerboard itself, and the whole outer perimeter of the quilt.

It is perilous work.

Blood has been drawn.

And to add insult to injury, he insists on taking partial credit for the quilt's completion and artistically rendered claw marks.

He is a strong negotiator.

He has a large presence.

I think I need a decoy quilt.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

An iPhone Album

July 31, 2013: Her dance camp was cancelled due to low enrollment,
but Maria still enjoyed putting on her own shows at home.

Every now and then, I like to sort through the pictures on my iPhone. I take a lot of pictures with that marvelous device, and I love seeing silly, and dear, bits and parts from our days. It's been wow! six months! since the last iPhone album. Where do the days go? I'm not going to bother accounting for March-July... but here are just a few snapshots from our summer.

August 9, 2013: I unpacked a quilt top I started five years ago... oy... where does the time go?! I added some more sashing to extend both ends, and now I am almost done hand quilting it.

August 13 2013: The Chiquitas are with the Juniors, and our grand dames. Considering that hens peck and squabble over territory rights and senior privileges, I think things are going quite nicely.

August 13, 2013: Now here is something top secret. Maria and Alex got to visit a game studio and lend their likenesses to some developing video games. This is Maria's smile capture.

August 13, 2013: Oh, just imagine Mister Foo in a motion capture studio! He'd be a great game subject.

August 11, 2013: "The Party That Will Never Happen," happened. It was a sweet and wild thing, with bountiful randomness. It was a potluck, and they asked every guest, "Oh, could you please bring pie?' As though a pie would be nice, and there were no other pies expected. Then they printed labels for every dish.

August 11, 2013: Craunchy Marmoset.

August 14, 2013: Mister Foo's face fills my iPhone memory. He sits on me, sleeps on me, loves on me, and terrorizes everyone. We adore him and we abhor him. He is without a doubt the current it of our Bird House days.

August 14, 2013: Half on my shoulder, and deeply nuzzled into Maria's neck, Mister Foo kneads his way into our affections.

August 15, 2013: And then he gets the look. "Pie eyed and bushy tailed," my mom said. And she's right. Do not offer your hand, or wiggle your toes. He is on the pounce.

August 18, 2013: The trunk of my sweet Odyssey, my Jet-Puff Super Van. I get such a thrill seeing feed store supplies loaded in my ride.

August 20, 2013: Max calls the kitty by his first name... Wash. Max and Wash are friends.

August 20, 2013: Chango is appalled by Mister Washburn Foo. You can see the anxious twitch in his eye, his look of utter refusal to see the merits of keeping a Foo in the home.

August 22, 2013: And so there are, at best, tenuous engagements between Chango El Cubano and Mister Washburn Foo. And we ask: Quien es mas macho, Chango, o Foo?

August 23, 2013: Tasha, and Ada are as fun and silly and goatiful as ever. We love our dear goats.

August 24, 2013: I promise, I am not posting all of the Foo pictures I've taken. Trust me.
But you wouldn't have to twist my arm too much to get me to share more!

August 26, 2013: Our blackberry harvest! Okay, I ate one off of the vine, but otherwise this is the total harvest from our treasured blackberry vine. Last we had four plants growing and producing, but those awful harlequin bugs had their way with them and I have not replaced them. My mom shared pictures of her blackberries, and cranberries, and huckleberries! Loads of them!
She knows berries!

August 27, 2013: What will Foo do without Max, or Maria, to adore and snuggle him, now that they are both at school? He'll wait for them, pine for them. Poor, poor Foo.

August 27, 2013: And he'll go about his day, annoying poor, poor Benjamin.

August 27, 2013: Benjamin was first in line at the watering hole,
but Foo was pushier.

August 2013: Here is our Koa Chica.
She looks more and more like a certified-verified Ameracauna Hen every day.
What a lovely chica, indeed.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Worn and Cared For

Careworn.  It's not what I thought.  I knew it meant haggard, frayed from worry.  But I thought there was another meaning, something suggested or implied.  I thought it could mean when something is so deeply cared for, so cuddled and adored it becomes worn, a bit thread bare, tattered.  Wasn't The Velveteen Rabbit worn from the hugs and attention, the constant play he enjoyed?  I always remembered that part of the story as his having been careworn.  

I was going to say this quilt has become careworn after a dozen years of comforting and warming us.  It is just what I always wanted of this quilt.  When I pieced it, I looked for older looking prints, soft fabrics, muted colors, warmth.  I made it a sample of different squares, with appliqués and embroidery... All familiar and meaningful images.  I wanted it to be both special, and everyday... Not so special you wouldn't wrap up in it, or carry it around the yard in search of soft ground and shade.  And I was looking forward to the day when I would see it in a heap, and it would look old, loved, familiar, and worn from care. 

Today I picked up my needle, opened my box of embroidery floss, and made many, many repairs.  Seams were opening, and some of the appliqués were coming apart.  I've noticed this for some time and actually dreaded making repairs... threading needles, tying knots, figuring out how best to cope with unraveling fabrics, and broken threads.  But today it was such a welcome task, I enjoyed every stitch.  

I enjoyed recalling how I chose to make a chicken,  a Christmas tree, the gingham print for the cottage roof.  I remembered Max suggesting motifs.  He was only four years old at the time.  For some reason I did not mind switching thread colors... I only used two.  I didn't feel frustrated about finishing off one seam, starting another.  It was all quite satisfying.  

I feel deeply thankful... for the skills I've learned, for the tools I have, for the children around me, for Geoff's insistence that I should enjoy doing happy things.  I imagined someone dropping by, an unexpected knock at the door, and the little dread I would feel when they saw  the clean clothes heaped on the sofa, or notice I still have not cleared dishes from lunch

I decided, this time, I was doing what really matters.  This time I was taking care of something good and necessary. After all, a worn and cared for quilt cannot repair itself.  And no matter how many socks need matching, or whatever such chore is lurking, there is not much chance of doing two, or three things at once.  I might just as well enjoy this most necessary duty.  

The Gate is Open

{Thank you, Anna Banana... you know me!}