Friday, April 10, 2015

Frankenrouter Is Alive

Fridays at Chickenblog are usually about a Moment during the week, a special moment. Today, it's about the moment Frankenrouter came to life, a moment we've anticipated for quite some time. Frankenrouter is the very large CnC router that Geoff imagined, designed, and built from the concrete and up. For a couple of years Geoff's taken time to tinker, experiment, research, cut, weld, wire, rummage, salvage, and create. He's had long breaks, time away for work, and other projects. Geoff's been challenged and stumped, taken some do-overs, and endured some long days. William has been a frequent assistant and supporter, and we've all been waiting to see, and hear, Frankenrouter come to life...

One more part is on order, and may take a month to arrive... a spindle. With it, and router bits, the three axis router will be carving cool things, making what we can design and envision in wood and foam, aluminum, too. In the meantime, Geoff and William made an ingenious little pvc tool to hold a sharpie, so we could give Frankenrouter his first assignment: Draw something pretty, Frank!

Video, right?

I know. I'll get on it.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

A Cat's Life

Naps. Stretches. Yawns. Purrs. Scratches.
Scratches. Purrs. Yawns. Stretches. Naps.
And repeat.

This cat, our Mister Washburn Foo, has a good life.
A very good life.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

The Young Game Developer

First day in JAVA.

And... she's hooked.

World Domination

It's a JAVA smile. She is a programmer, now.

This morning Maria was at the computer developing a game with Scratch. {Do you Scratch? It's programming made accessible for young/beginning programmers, from MIT.} Maria illustrates, animates, and writes programs for games, puzzles, and fun animations. This has been going on for about three months, ever since Amira shared the site with her, and Maria loves it! She shares it. And she's added programming to her list of things she wants to do when she grows up. Anyway... enough background. This morning she made a fish catching game, with a hungry cat who catches fish falling from the sky, before they hit the water and swim away. She wrote it so the cat's belly grows and he moves more slowly the more fish he catches, so the game play gets more challenging. It's clever and hilarious. And evidently, it's challenging. Geoff cannot beat her high score... not yet!

Turns out, you don't have to "grow up" to do what you love. When Maria tells us about a new interest, a new "I want to be a ______, when I grow up," my response is: "Cool. You'll need to learn about that, and practice it." And then I look for ways for her to begin, now, like cooking with her, and taking care of the garden with her so she can open her own restaurant, and sharing the joys, and heartaches, of keeping chickens and goats, because she wants to be a farmer. Maybe it stems from our home schooling days, but mostly I think it's just our family's irrepressible curiosity and need to make, tinker, play, explore, build, take apart, fail-try-again, and share that pushes us to do the things that spark our imaginations, to jump into the projects and ideas that form in our heads, our hearts. So, we make things, and go to Maker Faire, and dabble in crafts, with lasers and routers, and epoxy. You never know when something begins, like an interest in robots that may lead to passing along interests and skills, that could eventually take you to competitions, and championship events. And it doesn't really matter if that interest ever leads you to the "job," to being "that thing when you grow-up," because the real point, the actual gift, is in the journey, in the doing and tinkering, and failing, and trying again, and following another idea, new interest, doing more, and sharing it.

Maria is programming with Scratch, and in JAVA. She's begun. And she loves it. It's inspiring Geoff and me to host another tinkering day with Arduinos, soldering, code writing... we don't want to wait until we've grown-up to follow our interests, either.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Countless Good Things

Before I sweep, or put away dishes, before I eat one more jelly bean... I had to sort just a few pictures, wonderful moments from a very good Easter gathering, and share them... to keep the memories, to remind ourselves of life's simple pleasures, to connect and reconnect with each other. {Warning: There are a lot of pictures, and my heart is bursting with lots to say. I cannot help myself.}

The day was one good thing after another...
Dominic and Marissa, with Antonia, their Bisabuela... 95 year old great-grandmother.

With Lisa and her camera there, I felt a tremendous relief and gratitude, because I knew I could let her work her magic taking good family pictures. I hope everyone will be sharing all of their pictures!

Bill and Alison, their children, and our Abuela.

Our grandmother lives for family, for her faith, for extending her love and blessings on everyone. I am sure each of us grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, has a myriad of good memories of her, and the loving things she has said and done for us.

Abuela never fails to make us feel loved.

Between the delicious potluck foods, the gorgeous weather, the Viking tent, goats, chickens, and fun-loving guests... it was impossible for it to not be a good day. We were missing some (many in our considerably sized family,) and I think this only serves to inspire us to get together again.

Goats and chickens always amuse me, but it's even more fun to share them! All the cousins were such enthused and gentle farmers. Someone (Kyle or Keaton? Maybe Landon?) brought me a whole clutch of eggs that the hens had been hiding in a shrub! Then Dom brought an egg, and Marissa another, and they breathlessly proclaimed them to be very fresh eggs that they saw being laid! The eggs were warm and my nephew and niece were glowing with the thrill of their finds. It never gets old for me, finding the eggs, and seeing Dom and Marissa enjoy the wonder of it makes me giddy.

Our Abuela took us on some of the longest and most adventurous hikes of my childhood... to canyons, and rivers, up mesas, to distant places that are magical to recall. She seemed tireless, on the trail, and in her patience and affection. Today, it was the great grandchildren, and nasturtiums that lured her into the garden.

Marissa, and Maria, and Emma's sweet selfie skills.

Priscilla, if you only get one picture, it's awesome that it's as good as this one!

Alex and Bambi were the waffle masters, and Lisa was with me and helping, every step of the way from start to finish. Look at Alison's scrumptious fruit salad. And I adore that happy gaze from Dominic. A bit later, I was perched at the corner of the table, enjoying one of Tim's cinnamon roll, and a bit of everything else, and looking around the kitchen, I felt joy... joy at the sight of cousins, and siblings, and friends, and the flurry and buzz of a busy home. The best... a bustling home, full, and engaged.

A teachable moment... with tips and suggestions from just about everyone around the table, Maria advised Emma about how to use the whipped cream dispenser.

Success... another vital life skill mastered!

My dear cousin Priscilla made this visit possible. We were both marveling at how sometimes life lets you be spontaneous, how things can work out, even better than imagined or hoped for.

Dom, Maria, Marissa, and Emma

Once again proving that cousins make the best friends. Simple, and darling.

Lisa, Priscilla, Natalie, and Emma

Proving, once again, that even when they've grown up, and the visits are less frequent, cousins can still make the best friends.

Bisabuela Antonia, and her first great-grandchild, William. Good people, good souls.

Dom, Kyle, Keaton, Marissa, Landon

We weren't about to skip the egg hunt, but the day was so full, the children so easy to entertain themselves, that it was nearly overlooked. Lisa came well-stocked with eggs, and we had some here, too. Bill, Lisa, and I covered the yard with treasure, while the chickens looked on, puzzled. Inside, the children were amusing themselves with magic and sleight of hand games... something that we all enjoyed for most of the rest of the day!

I think everyone found good things in the garden.

The happy hunters! Dom, Maria, Marissa, Keaton with Landon, and Kyle beside Emma

I still remember the spring smell of fresh grass, sun, and chocolates, and the fun of swapping, sorting, and carrying a basketful of goodies. It was a fun to see their pleasure in the day.

Bill, you have your equipment. You know what to do. And remember, I am an investor, so when you fill your gold pan, don't forget your favorite sister.

Good chocolates... those ones in the white wrappers... just saying.

I love being an aunt.

I love that Lisa and Tim took so many pictures, that they're sharing. I love that their boys enjoyed the goats and chickens, that they were happy to play.

Keaton, Lisa, and Alison

My brothers are dear to me, in ways I cannot find words for. My abuela, too... and this picture is a treasure.

We simply could not pass the day without the Eggbot; our robo contribution to many celebrations and gatherings never disappoints.

Besides finding eggs, real and candy-filled, besides feasting merrily, we became deeply immersed in games... magic, illusion, stunts, pranks, clever tricks, and funny talents. I am glad I had some cards on hand.

Both Bill and Keaton have skills with sleight of hand.

The entertainment was ongoing, and good natured.

Maria and Marissa left the room, and returned to guess which state we picked, while Bill rattled off geographical places (seemingly at random?) With Kyle's help, Maria was able to teach the secret of the game to Marissa, and now they are both master illusionists.

Bill, Tim, Keaton, Kyle, and the deck of cards... magical.

William and Geoff, and the magical EggBot.

Tim, Dom, and Landon

Dom, you are awfully lucky to have such a fun daddy!

Yup, I do love a full house.

Maria's turn to be the master magician. She'll tell you in which hand you're holding a jelly bean. Mind power!

Good laughs, good tricks.

Good eggs.

Countless good things.