Saturday, September 14, 2013

Our Shebot

March 12, 2011 ~ September 14, 2013

When Shebot hatched we were in the middle of FIRST regionals, and our lives revolved around robots, especially the mini-bots. This little grey puff, daughter of Zelda Silkie Princess and Temple the manly Polish rooster, was one of the speedy chicks named in honor of those mini-bots. She was Shebot the Mini-Bot.

Maria felt like a real farm girl, seeing her chickens hatch eggs, raise chicks. She knew Shebot from the very start. Shebot turned out to be aptly named... she was wildly fast.

Our Shebot passed away this morning, sometime after breakfast. She had been feeling poorly, was moving slow, with drooped wings. Her spa treatment was surprisingly well-recieved, but not the cure for what ailed her. Maria and I were with her, and all the chicas, this morning. I pointed out to Maria that Shebot was ill. We hoped she would rally, but we are glad she did not linger, suffering too much. She was a feisty girl, almost impossible to catch, and if you could get her you were not going to hear the end of it... she would squawk like no other chicken I've ever heard. We like to think she had a good life, and that she can rest in peace, now... in a safe, wide open chicken haven. We are so thankful for the eggs, the fun she brought us, and just the pleasure of seeing her funny self.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Life of Foo and Benjamin, Too

This is not an innocent Foo.  This is a ninja in cat's pajamas.  He is the sneak attacker.  The, spring upon the unsuspecting, beast.  He pounces.  He pursues.  He goes for dangling footies, for elbows, knees, threads, feathers, laces, and anything twitchy.  We have all been his prey, his victim.  We buy band aids wholesale.  But none of us endures more unrelenting abuse and attention than Benjamin Franklin Thundercat.  

Mister Washburn Foo makes Benjamin's days long, and his nights too suspenseful for peace.  Benjamin has an uncanny ability to be both attractive and helpless under attack.  He cannot muster a stern enough meow to dissuade Foo.  He cannot redirect the Foo.  He is helpless before the Foo.  

I think Chango must look upon these engagements with disgust.  Chango lays down the law.  A swift swipe, a commanding meow, which clearly states:  Do not even think about it.  Mister Foo is stopped, sometimes mid-air, by just one glare from Chango's commanding face.  

We are barely hopeful.  Foo will mellow, Benjamin will survive, peace will prevail.  Maybe?  hopefully?  And sometimes I catch a glimpse of what might be... something we hope will be the rule, and not the exception...

They're practically adoring each other!

Synchronized cat bathing. Facing each other.  In the same room.  

Peace.  There is hope. 

Three For Thirty :: Day Ten

A photograph.
Some movement... walk, a swim, stretching, playing, yoga.
And sewing.
Every day, for thirty days.

I am done quilting the Picnic quilt. The last step is the binding... something sewn all the way around to close the edges. I need to decide whether to purchase some bias tape, make some bias tape, or roll the backing fabric over and around the front, then slip-stitch it down.

Chango is a pensive cat, a cautious kitty. He says, "Don't be hasty. Weigh your options."

He's right. I should be happy with my choice, and there's no rush.

In the meantime, I might just cut and press some fat quarters for a Christmas gift(s) project.

I am so eager for this evening, when the children and Geoff are home... it's one of those times, one of those days, when I am certain that being together will be the most comforting and enjoyable thing I can imagine. Well, yes, in fact that is how I always feel.

{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, September 12, 2013

Three For Thirty :: Day Nine

Summer's light is waning. I notice it in the morning, when I come down to the kitchen... it makes me eager to turn on the coffee machine, make a warm breakfast. I notice it the nights when I pick up Alex from school. It's darker, and darker, earlier and earlier. Maria said, "It's almost your favorite season, Mommy." And Geoff teased, "Soon, you'll be getting ready for AllHallowGivingMas!" It's true. I do love the time of year when the celebrations are around the home, bringing friends and family close for a lark, for thanks, for peace, love, hope, faith, and light.

And now, with my tea, plenty of sewing projects in the works, and more in mind, I get back to the Picnic Quilt, and to the prayers I say, the hopes I hold for the world, for our community, for family, for friends. Sewing for me, at its best, is a peaceful reverie, a meditation. Needle and thread, my mind and heart aligned with my best intentions, and fondest desires. Healing. Peace. Kindness. Respect.

Life of Foo

Mister Foo, the feline scholar, comes with us when we bring Max and Maria to their schools.  He likes to sit in Max's arms as we ride to the high school.  Max enjoys his last minute visit with his kitty before his full day. 

Then, Foo sits with me, while Geoff drives to Maria's school.  No driving for Foo... he tailgates.  

In the school parking lot, Maria keeps Foo in her lap, while I brush her hair.  Mister Foo's lips quiver and his whiskers twitch as he watches the crows on the fence.  Sometimes he hops up to the dash for a better view.  

We walk Maria to her class.  We have our hugs and kisses, and make a happy plan for after school.  Back in the van, Mister Foo has taken his accustomed spot, in Maria's booster seat.  

Time to head back home, Washburn Foo.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Life of Foo

As I quilt I've had the sweet company of Washburn Foo.  One moment to the next he is adorable, and makes me glad.  It's such a blessing to enjoy peace, quiet times for smiles, and reflection.  
Mister Foo keeps me mindful of the really great, and little, joys that come in any day.  And I wish these moments of happy reflection for everyone.  Healing, learning,smiling, playing, napping, and peaceful joy for us all.  

Three For Thirty :: Day Eight

Here is my photograph of the day: Koa, the bearded Ameracauna, and her dear friend Lilikoi, the Buff Orpington. Pele will be just out of view in the picture, but still close by. The three juniors are never far from each other. I still worry a rooster may be lurking in the flock, but so far the only crowing we hear comes from our old hen, Kamen. She's even taken to strutting like a rooster. It's quite a thing to hear and see. I am amused to think that if a neighbor asks, "Do you have a rooster?" and I reply, "No, we do not have a rooster," they are sure to believe I am a great-big-pants-on-fire liar!

My challenge for movement and getting out most often revolves around time spent caring for the farm. That's a happy habit for me. I went east to a favorite part of the county to see about finding better stall cleaning tools. I met with semi-success. We finally have a standing dust pan, so I can rake and scoop, at once. I am still on the look out for a rake with narrowly spaced tines. But I found something really unexpected... I've been pondering over what to do to keep the rain out of the chicken feeder. Our feeder hangs from our open air chicken run, and it's open on the top, which is nice for refilling, but will be disastrous in the winter. I've considered different options, like covering the roof of the run, just over the feeder, but rain blows, and the roof is seven feet high at the peak, so that seemed an unlikely solution. I also imagined some kind of metal cap custom made by someone and it would, somehow, slide around the chain and over the opening... an iffy concept. Now, for the unexpected fix:

Tada! This clever little shelter has an eye screw inside and our feeder hangs under the shelter. It was affordable, and it is light weight. We can move it around. The slope of the roof comes down just enough so that I imagine only a stiff, horizontal gale would blow water into the feeder. As soon as I installed the new operation, we had nine hens giving it a try. Plenty of room, ladies, gather around!

It was in the car when I picked Maria up from school, and she was excited, even before she knew what it was. She asked, "What is it?" I answered, "It's a food barn." She laughed and sounded thoroughly delighted, and exclaimed, "A Foo barn! He'll love it. Are we going to add walls?" Well, no. It's not a kitty Foo barn but I do love the idea.

After the run got some sprucing, the goats brushed, the bunnies loved, the chicas admired, I got to enjoy hand quilting the Picnic Quilt. I've had a small break from hand quilting, since Mister Foo and Chango were alternating their nap times on my project.

I've always made a point of being as consistent as possible with my stitch size and spacing... on other quilts. For some reason, I have been far more lax with this quilt, enjoying being free to make big or small stitches, and only aiming for doing what feels comfortable in the moment. When I first was learning how to quilt, a book I had for reference talked about making ten stitches per inch. Ten stitches per inch means making very tiny stitches! Not only does this require more stitches, but it calls for a more deliberate effort to drop the needle, down, through, and up again... whereas a wider spaced and larger stitch can sometimes be accomplished in a rocking motion, with the needle making several stitches at once. Knowing how much more work those ten stitches in an inch would require, I've never bothered... my fingers hurt enough as it is!

But I have been curious, so around this one flower I gave ten stitches per inch a try. Some of the stitches are so tiny they are nearly invisible. Each stitch required the focused intent of bringing the needle in and out for each individual stitch. I can see how if my quilt were in a massive table height frame, like it might have been at a quilting bee, it would be easier to manage. If you follow this link, which I chose for the image of the quilting bee, you'll see an amazing example of hand quilting, with very fine stitching, indeed! It's lovely, but unless I can get five, or ten, quilting helpers to join me, and maybe some good thimbles, my quilts will be slightly less amazing. Geoff says his method would involve a long arm quilting machine! Alex thinks it's time to invent a quilting machine that can be run over the fabric, like an iron. I will not discourage either of them in their visionary ideals! And yet, I cannot imagine completely giving up on the happy meditation of a needle pulling thread.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Three For Thirty :: Days Six & Seven

Tuesday's photograph: Diego, the World's Most Boring Fish has attracted the interest of one, whiskered, devotee. Diego is colorful, elegant, ethereal even, but he is so slow, quiet, inactive, we frequently mistake him for dead. How many times have I watched him, caught my breath, then shaken his home in hopeful anticipation of signs of life? We've had him nearly a year, and I am not kidding, last night was the very first time we saw him eat his food. Seriously. Diego, the World's Most Boring Fish would never eat while we were watching.

And maybe he's eating more heartily now, because he has caught Mister Washburn Foo's predatory eyes. Diego must be eager to put on some mass, look larger, less vulnerable.

Mister Foo never noticed Diego, the World's Most Boring Fish, until two days ago, and now Diego is interesting, very interesting, to at least one Bird House resident. Foo wraps his arms around the bowl, presses his nose to the glass. This morning, Maria ate her croissant while watching Mister Foo lovingly pat Diego's home with a kindly paw. Tap-tap, tap-tap. Fortunately, Diego's house has a heavy and secure lid, because I think Mister Foo would really enjoy a closer meeting.

In sewing news, our Penny Wooden Doll, Aya, has a work day apron.

I also repaired the hem of my skirt, and the straps on Maria's dress. That's just the kind of sewing I am usually loath to do, but my thirty day challenge makes it feel less daunting... why is that? For once, I did not procrastinate, and now the jobs are done, and two favorite garments are right back in circulation.

Lauren left a comment, on our last post, suggesting it might soon be time for Aya to have a wool coat, some leggings. Of course my rational side thought, Oh, it's rarely cold enough here for such garments, but then my better side got very excited about the prospect of bringing out our wool roving, and felt! After all, who needs to be rational when sewing for a Penny Wooden Doll? I wonder how much fun it would be to crochet a tiny scarf?

And, Jennifer, I had to order the book you suggested. I was happy to notice in the customer reviews a discussion about the original book vs. the newest edition, which apparently has been edited. I made sure to order a copy of the original Hitty, Her First Hundred Years. Thank you for the recommendation!

Now, my formulating plan is to save the book for Maria's birthday, and to order her her very own Penny Wooden Doll. "Technically," Aya is my doll. Maria asks to hold her, and very carefully admires her. I love that she is a bit awestruck by her, and takes such special care of her, and I think the longing for one of her own will make for a sweet birthday surprise. Also, it will make a perfect pairing with her other birthday present: her first pocket knife. She has been waiting to turn nine, so she can have her very own pocket knife, and Alex has begun her safety and handling lessons. It is bittersweet, realizing that nine years old is the beginning of being in-between make-believe and growing up, but these are the lines I like to blur.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Three For Thirty :: Days Four & Five :: A Penny Wooden Doll

This is a Penny Wooden Doll. She doesn't have a name, yet. I found her at a yard sale, for one dollar, but she was not dressed.

She was in a kit, with two pieces of fabric, lace trim and a few of snaps, but no directions about how to make her some clothes. Naturally, the Internet has plenty to share about farthing dolls, peg dolls, and wooden penny dolls. I am smitten.

Maria spent the morning wrapping the two pieces of fabric around the tiny doll, then she would show me her latest outfit.

Well, even though I am challenging myself to sewing every day, for thirty days, I hadn't considered making clothes for a little doll. But the idea grew on me, and since I have a cold, and not much pep for more than sinking into the sofa, and watching something wonderful, I decided to forget about patterns and directions, and see what I could do to get her dressed.

The boys set up Victorian Farm House for me. I'd love to have the series on DVD, but we just streamed it on the TV from YouTube. And while the twenty-first century moved into the Victorian age, I brought out my needle and thread, and made a drawstring skirt.

By the end of the first episode, I was adding trim to the hem.

The second episode started, and I was debating whether or not I could make a tiny blouse.

Well, maybe, if I didn't try to make impossibly small, separate sleeves...

A tiny peasant blouse, with pink trim around the neckline.

The cap was the last bit I finished from the tiniest scrap left over. Naturally, I am already thinking of making some pantaloons, and a nightgown, an apron...

I still have a sore throat, fever, a cruddy head, but there are a couple episodes of Victorian Farm House left, and also Edwardian Farm House!

Maria told Geoff, "If you get a lathe and make more penny wooden dolls, I will paint them for you." And I guess I could make a few more outfits, too.

Henrietta D. Thoreau

This is the Ameraucana hen we named Mako. She is a pretty dear, and I find her black, tufted beard charming. I brought her inside, so everyone could have a nice long look. We admired her, and adored her, and William said, "She looks like Henry David Thoreau," and he brought up an image so we could compare the two.

A Thoreauly tufted beard. An Alaskan Whaler.

It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
~Henry David Thoreau

Mako looks a bit stern, I know, but she's really quite docile and social. Like Thoreau, she's a happy proponent of simple living in natural surroundings. I like the comparison.