Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The New Dishes :: Paint and Pottery

It's been almost a year since Maria and I painted pottery. Given how much we love this activity, it's surprising we don't go more often, but it's pricey, for sure, and, when we go, five hours pass and we hardly notice, so it's a time investment, too. A happy, absorbed, engrossed time investment.

My only "rule:" no figurines, which get dusty and limit the creativity. It's not a hard and fast rule, I'll make exceptions, but I think they've come to see the value of making something we can use, and painting something that can be more their own. Plates are my favorite.

My other favorite is to choose a piece that I can paint top and bottom. I am not interested in collecting a lot of pieces. I just want something to paint, so a cup or bowl or plate gives me two painting opportunities in one!

Alex chose a mug, and he totally optimized his painting opportunities... under, around, inside, outside. Everywhere. Bambi, too, with her pretty tea pot, in tea green. She even wrote kanji on the bottom.

Inside, Alex's mug is a sea, with waves and boats, a lighthouse. Outside it's a forest. I love the birdhouse, the deer and fox, and even the sunlight backlighting the trees.

Steady hands, and patience. It takes two or three layers, at least, to make the colors really show up. When you do detailed, small work, like on Bambi's teapot, it means carefully painting each part multiple times. I cannot wait to see it all glazed, full of tea.

It would be so fun to make a complete set... the cups, a tray, more plates.

Here is Maria's garden spot on a plate. I can see this at our next picnic, with finger sandwiches, veggie sticks.

While we painted, it was raining steadily. What a great day.

Remind me to bring our own brushes, if we go again. It was a very busy day, and fine brushes were hard to come by.

I brought my mouse plate with me, from that last visit, in case I was inspired to do something similar. But this time I started thinking about the embroidery I did last summer, and I decided to play with the chicken I stitched and painted. Alex suggested the wood paneling. His ideas sound so great, and he states them so matter-of-factly, that I had the nerve to try it... this kind of painting, with glazes, takes some getting used to, and after applying two strokes of that brown paint, I was a bit redoubtful (regret + doubt). I pushed through, though... nowhere else to go but forward!

And, like always, I played on the back of the plate, too. Did I mention we were there for five hours? Five fun hours! We can pick these up on Saturday! I can't wait to see our shiny new dishes!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My Weather App is Fired

I am deleting the weather app on my phone, the one I check 2-3-10 times a day! The one where I follow Hawaii weather, Oregon forecasts, and devotedly hang on every hope and hint of rain or snow, anywhere in California. It's an awful app. It's wrong 72.9% of the time, and a bit off the rest of the time. Rain may be falling, but my weather app shows sunshine. It may be hot as July, but my weather app shows fog moving in. Why have I been so forgiving? Why have I been so blind?

The last straw blew in over the weekend when we awoke to howling winds. The wind literally on all fours, and wailing like a hairy beast on the hunt. Things were crashing around the yard, doors were slamming in the house. I envisioned the chickens, who insist on roosting high on a support cable just beneath the open-air roof of the run, and I imagined them featherless, strewn and disheveled. Geoff threw the switch on the garden lights, as I pulled on my boots, and that's about the time we heard the loudest crash, a ripping searing event. Downstairs, and out the kitchen door, I met Alex, our eyes were wide open, and what we saw made our hearts fall. That beast of (an unforecasted) wind raised the genuine inauthentic Viking tent, pulled up and snapped stakes, and flipped all of it across the lawn. The base frames snapped at the dowels. The screws for the A-frames twisted. It could have been worse. The dragon is safe, the A-frame wood is fine. The canvas is intact. We surveyed the damage, watching our heads for more flying debris, then tugged and wrestled with the canvas ties, to free the tent from the frame. The wind was as ferocious as ever, the canvas was as taut as a sail, ready to be driven off, again!

And the chickens? Those looney chooks clung to the shade cloth, stuck firm to that cable, turned their beaks into the weather and cackled like mad hens! They didn't give a fig or a feather, and the only thing ruffling their feathers was me, when I tried to pick them up, to protect them. I am keeping those crazy chickens, but the weather app has got to go!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Good Morning

This was Christmas morning :: William, Max with Mister Foo, Maria, Alex and Bambi.

Someone rings sleigh bells, then squeals peel out from the one room where everyone was sleeping. These are the traditions, the playbook for the day. Nothing begins until everyone is up, ready. And everything begins with gratitude, jumping for joy, spirited exuberance, then stockings. Besides the gratitude, jumping for joy and spirited exuberance, stockings may be the only thing done in parallel... everyone at once pulling out treasures. And even this happens slowly, with thankful reflection. A big drill bit! Socks! Pajamas! Then everything slows down even more, and presents are opened one at a time... fire bricks, wood, skates for Maria, and shoe shine kits for William and Alex, a special watch for Bambi. One at a time, each passed around, admired. Mister Foo weaving in and out, from under the chair, cautiously approaching open boxes, skeptically sniffing bows. Max directs Maria, "Pick one from behind the tree this time." She's happy to oblige, our helpful elf. Food is the lowest priority, perfunctory, by request. Naps are inevitable, savored. Now we're reading, assembling, and making plans. There are designs for the wood, discussion about forges, and music playing. So, it still feels a bit like Christmas morning, even today. That's tradition, too... to play, to tinker and make, to study, to share, every day, as often as possible. And for the resources, time, blessings, family, friends, and faith I enjoy, to see all of this possible, at Christmas, and everyday, I am thankful.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Wrapping Up

Either I really love writing, or I am an utter delinquent. It may be an unfortunate combination, a little of each. But I shouldn't be sitting here, thinking thoughts, stringing words together. I should be....

1. Making rice pudding, because I gave myself two New Year resolutions for 2015, and only one has been accomplished.

2. Cleaning the kitchen, because no one wants rice pudding from a dirty kitchen, etc...

3. Starting dough for bread, because it's a waste of cold days to not have hot bread coming out of the oven.

4. Stopping taking so many naps; they've been marvelous, but I am losing track of the days, and I have a suspicion that I am not actually a bear.

5. Comforting, consoling, encouraging, reminding, supporting Max about the last of the college applications he needs to complete.

6. Cleaning some more. Pick a room. Any room.

7. Going to the park, and walking.

8. Trying on Maria's skates and deciding if it's even remotely a good idea to order some for myself, or not.

9. Checking to see whether the shampooed carpets in the Odyssey have dried, and stopped stinking, and if they still stink, then concocting and applying the antidote.

10. Writing a long, rational, detailed rant against the insurance company that won't cover the costs of the accident caused by their client; even when she admitted total fault, and we hired an attorney.

11. Skipping #10. Life is unfair, and my ride is damaged, but bitter rage and futile indignation are too, too costly.

12. Rethinking #11, because somebody needs to raise their fist in righteous indignation, or _Corporate UHmerica_ will reign over us all.

13. Mucking out the chicken run, because hard labor clears the mind, and dealing with sh!t is inevitable.

14. Reaffirming the positive! Thanking everyone for their kindness, their thoughtfulness, their everyness, and chicken tea towels. Love.

15. Deciding, once and for all, what I want/need/like/wish regarding the b-i-r-t-h-d-a-y, then dealing with it.

16. Putting new batteries in the keyboard.

17. Leaving the house, finding a salon, and paying for a haircut. (Standing in front of the mirror with shears in hand, asking, How hard could it be? is probably a bad idea.)

18. The bank, the post office, the shoe store... go to there, and do my business.

19. Taking my German iron supplement, and liking it. Like it!

20. Telling myself... Hey. It's okay to skip the whole rice pudding resolution. It can wait until next year.

There's more to wrap up, and accomplish, mostly revolving around brooms, rubbish bins, and firm resolve. If you catch me in my office, I hope it's because I am taking care of business!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry & Bright

We're home. Snug. Busy. Busy, but slowing down, too. There may, or may not, be lots left to do, but I think we are reaching the point where we are quietly settling into winter comforts, like slow dinners, warm socks, favorite movies, visiting loved ones, sitting by the fire. Some things that seemed urgent or pressing are dropping further and further down the priority list. But then again... some huge tasks have suddenly taken top spot, like making tamales! We had a welcome visit from Aunt Becky and cousin Deborah, and with them, news from Oregon and Pasadena. Wish we were there. It's looking like we'll celebrate Christmas on Christmas day this year, and that's kind of novel. Other plans will have to wait, the redwoods, the zoo, sledding? But plans to ice skate with cousins, aunts and uncles are coming together quite nicely. It's good to be flexible. There's more rain in the forecast, I have those tamales to make, we're still making snowballs! And to make all of it really grand: Geoff has this whole week off!

One thing that dropped off my to-do list was sending Christmas cards, which is a shame, because I so love receiving those greetings. But. Maybe people won't mind so much... as I do tend to share quite a bit throughout the year, here at ye ol Chickenblogge. Just the same, I would like to add an extra message of glad tidings and warm wishes, to all of our family, and all of our friends. We really do wish we could visit each of you, and share in the love and joy that shines extra bright at this time of year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Winter Time Is Here :: Happiness & Cheer

Our fourth annual (more or less) Solstice Celebration was wonderful. All it takes is friends to make a party great, and we feel so thankful to have shared another ride around the sun with a great many good friends. This is our night to show our thanks, and enjoy light. The really nice thing is, we prepare to give to our friends, and we always end up receiving... far more than we expect.



Last year, part I, and part II