Friday, September 20, 2013

Benjamin Franklin Thundercat ~ Cowboy and Explorer ~

March 2006 ~ September 20, 2013

May 2, 2006

We found him at the Country Store. It was love at first sight.

July 5, 2007

Everyone doted on him, and everyone wanted to name him. We settled on Benjamin Franklin Thundercat. It was a big name, befitting his statesmen demeanor, and elegant whiskers.

His passing is so unexpected and sudden, so tragic. We've lost one of our family. A pet, yes, but a dear and beloved pet. No one sleeps until Benjamin, Chango, and Foo are in for the night, least of all William. Everyone has a story about Benjamin's affection, sometimes painfully insistent, Alex will tell you. Maria recounts all the times he slept with her, purred for her, sat with her. Benjamin loved Geoff's legs and would wind his way around them, falling at Geoff's feet for affection. And every day, after school, Benjamin would be there to welcome Max home, to bring him back to center, to keep him company... they were dear companions. I adored his visits, his beauty, his certainty that every quilt was made for him, the happy way he made us feel.

May 29, 2010

June 3, 2011

February 8, 2012

September 19, 2013

This unfinished quilt is his now, with our love, and fond memories of a kitty who was dearly loved.

“I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can't stop them. They leave me and I love them more.”
~Maurice Sendak.

{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 19, 2013

What The World Needs

Sometimes we call him Joe-Joe.  Also:  Monster, Beasty, and Ninja.  He's Mister Foo and Master Foo.  Wash. Wasburn.  He has mad squirrel skills. He can jump vertically, hanging in midair to meet you eye to eye.  He bathes himself more than any cat I've ever known.  Maria says he has fishy breath.  He has a deep meow, and a powerful purr motor.  

And when I need to laugh, to feel light, I look to Mister Washburn Foo.  When I want to point the finger, for any mess or chaos, Mister Foo bears it well.  He loves on me.  He appalls me.  He amuses me. He stays beside me and takes away some of the hard bits that life carries.  Everyone should have a Foo of one kind, or another.  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Three For Thirty :: Days Thirteen & Fourteen... in a tangle

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

Something about the sewing challenge compels me to try new things, like making teeny quilting stitches, and making tiny doll clothes. Now, I am trying out new embroidery stitches, like the feathered stitch I added to some quilt squares, and these funny little curly stitches I am figuring out... elongated French knots. Speaking of knots, no matter how experienced I feel as someone who sews, and no matter how careful I try to be, I make tangles, snarls, and nasty little knots.

My sewing experience has not prevented my thread from doing this, but it has helped me become rather expert at undoing this. The key is to stop as soon as there is even a hint of trouble, and then be patient and methodical, taking the best care possible not to pull any thread that tightens the tangle. It's nice to know I can undo some doozies, but gah is it frustrating, especially when nothing but cutting it out can help.

If I can save myself from having to remedy a cut thread, it's a huge relief.

My other tangle is an aesthetic~design tangle. You see, I have no idea what to do with these little curly, weirdo flowers I am making. I just stuck one on the damask-like print, then tried another, and another. Too much effort to pull out, and yet they have no rhyme, no reason, no plan. I've added even more since this picture was taken, and then I made blue French knot flower thingys... and yeah, totally random.

I'm not looking for permission or absolution... I'm just suggesting, to myself:

Hey, self, if you wonder why your work looks slapped together, if you wish your embroidery looked thoughtfully composed, might I suggest composing it thoughtfully? Woman, come up with a plan. Think ahead. Follow a pattern you admire. Please, consider the piece as a whole. Just saying.

Oh! Hold on a sec, self. One more note: Take Tami's wise advice about the seam binding, and finish that Picnic Quilt, this year!

The Crew

Keeping me company while I rake out the run, goats and chickens.  I still cannot find the tools I have in mind for this job... a rake with tines closer together, and a screen to separate the _berries_ from the decomposed granite.  I am raking and hauling a lot of the ground.  I'll compost everything so it's not a total loss, but there's got to be a better way. 

At least I have willing help!

Thanks, Tasha.  

Lets face it,  the real helpers are the ones who stay out of the way!

Oh, good grief.  Goats!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Bird House & Barn

...A farm Report.
We have a flock of chickens. We call them chicas, because it's Spanish for girls. And I am bilingually punny like that. Within our flock we have chick cliques. Our three first generation hens are Kamen, Little Debbie, and Lucky Penny. They've been around a few years, and they live to bully the new chicas. The first batch of new chicas we call the Juniors, and the youngest batch are the Chiquitas.

The Old Guard gets prime seating on the roosts, and supreme command over every corner of the entire run. The Juniors who tower over the old guard have still not figured out they could sit on Little Penny and completely obscure her from daylight. The Juniors hang together, and run from the old guard. The Chiquitas, like their big sisters, move together like a single organism. Birds of a feather flock together. I kinda get that, now.

Mako, Thompson, and Thomson. "Chiquitas."

Yesterday, late afternoon, I let all of the chicas out for some pecking, scratching, foraging, and exploring. Neither the Juniors, nor the Chiquitas, have been out to free-range. We let them have outdoor time when they were small enough to corral and protect, but since they've gotten faster, they have lived entirely in the run. Until yesterday. I planned to work in the garden, and so it felt like a good time to give them some freedom.

At first, they seemed ready and willing and they filed out eagerly. They started finding delectable things to sample, they dashed and flapped. But then they ran back in, as though they weren't too sure the wide open spaces were right for them. Then they popped out, again. They seemed to want to test things out.

Since I don't want the bunnies free-ranging, I set a long cage in front of the entry. The hens hopped up, and out, but the bunnies stayed in, enjoying the quieter spaces, while the chicas were away. Ada and Tasha had to wait their turns. I wasn't quite prepared to manage free-range goats and chickens, while tending the garden beds.

Tasha Tudor Goat and Ada Lovelace Goat, our darling girls. Our darling girls, who would love to bound out and snarf all the bunny food, inhale all the chicken feed, knock over feed bins, jump on tables, crash through the tomatoes and roses, and eat my apron strings. I love my goats.

Now that our garden beds have been moved from the side yard, and between the run and the barn, we need to replant them. It's time for pulling out the last beets and carrots, tilling, adding soil, and dividing and transplanting our strawberries. Then we put in some seeds... spinach loves strawberries, and I love companion gardening. We planted more carrots, too. While turning the soil, I pulled out about thirty or a thousand grubs. I tossed them into a pot, and then brought them to the chickens. Well, the Old Guard was thrilled with their buffet, but the Juniors and Chiquitas were on to something else: Dust bathing!

And seriously, they were really into it! And never mind the chick cliques. The girls were mixing it up!

This was the spot. And it was hopping.

The first time I ever saw a chicken enjoying her dust bath, I was a bit freaked out. I thought my hen was dying, convulsing, having a seizure, in the ultimate rapture. They close an inner eyelid, so their eyes are glazed over. They writhe and flip, then lay limply, until overcome, they fly dirt and debris everywhere, and it starts all over again. It can go on for quite some time.

You only have to watch for a bit to realize they are, indeed, in ecstatic joy. Chicken delight, that's what a chicken's dust bath is.

Sometimes the pile up was big, a hen would suddenly emerge from beneath, and we would laugh at her sudden appearance. Maria and I sat on the ground watching this for twenty or thirty minutes, because it is so funny, and happy. Their happiness is infectious.

The dust bath gets sand and dirt into their feathers, onto their skin. It exfoliates their skin, loosens crud, and shakes out any parasites trying to hitch a free ride. The chicas are in there trying to cover every bit of themselves in dirt. They fan out their wings, and beat the ground to kick up dirt all over themselves. It's not easy to get photos of, but it's fun trying.

When they stand up, they look scruffy and their feathers are droopy, heavy, and less fluffed. That's because everything is coated and holding dirt and dust, and the next step really cracks me up: They walk away, and at some spot and time, they stand planted in place and shake like a wet dog! As though pulled out by centrifugal force, their feathers open up and out, and the dirt flies. It's a spray of dirt, radiating in every direction. The Old Guard will wait, carrying their payload around for quite sometime... often waiting to drop it on our porch. When I happen upon their deposit, I find a perfect dusting of dirt, in an area about the size of a medium pizza, with two chicken feet perfectly stenciled in the center.

You can see the two who are loading up, a blur of dust bath euphoria.

Koa, didn't join in the fun. Maybe she didn't think it was appropriate for me to hang around their spa, with my camera, laughing.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Three For Thirty :: Days Eleven & Twelve

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

My first attempt at this fern, or feather, stitch from an example I found, through Pinterest, at Lavana e Lilla. I tried it on a row of patchwork squares, for yet another work-in-progress quilt I found. I have no idea when I started this one. I do remember wanting to add darling appliqués, but that I was not achieving very good results. As I recall, this one was packed away out of frustration. Now I am tempted to finish more appliqués and play with more embroidery, too.

I have mispoken... I didn't find the quilt top, Mister Foo found the quilt top. He has been craft wrangling in my armoire! With nary an inch to work with, he breaks into the closet where I store yarn, gifts, projects, stuff, yarn, fabric, stuff, and yarn. And stuff. You know what I mean. He's after the yarn. He's relentless. He carries off skeins, balls, even half-done wraps and scarves, and he rides off into the sunset with his hustled booty. This time, he jumped into the closet so determinedly he came crashing down with a heap of stuff on top of him, including the unfinished quilt top. You probably heard the racket, and me screaming, "Foo!"

I picked up the quilt top, and decided it wasn't so bad after all, and I looked at the weird scarf he was after, and decided it was bad enough to let Foo enjoy killing it. Then I decided to lay the quilt top out, get a good study of it, decide what to do to finish it, and take a picture of...


Well, the idea was to get a picture of the quilt top, but Foo brought his hapless victim into the scene. Yarn guts, everywhere.

Warning: Due to the graphic nature of Foo's behavior, the next image my be unsuitable for yarn lovers.

At least I hadn't bothered to press the quilt top for the picture.

And away he rides, dragging his prey behind him.

Oh. Well.

I decided I really should press the quilt top, after all. And so, naturally, Mister Foo returned when I was ready to get a nice shot of my freshly ironed quilt top.