Saturday, June 13, 2015

Behold, The Greatest Gift Is Gold

Happy Birthday, Alex!
You really are blessed with the greatest gifts...
humor, imagination, curiosity, intelligence, creativity, and great friends!
Solid gold!
Door bell rings.
Long pause.
William, with awe and pleasure calls out, "Hey, Alex, I think you'd better come here..."
We all rush to the front door, and are met with the slain head of Smaug the Tyrannical! {And some of his booty!}

Truly, tales and songs fall utterly short of your enormity,
O Smaug the Stupendous...

I am strong, strong, STRONG! My armor is like tenfold shields!
My teeth are like swords! My claws, spears! The shock of my tail, a thunderbolt!
My wings, a hurricane! And my breath... DEATH!

Alas, poor Smaug has breathed his last, but he shall not have died in vain, and his glory will be honored when we fete Alex in Middle Earth!

{And who was the crafty warrior who delivered this treasure? A swift youth was seen riding off... and I Grant you he was fleet-footed, yet we have our suspicions.}

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Bird House & Barn

... a Farm Report~

This time it was Tasha, not Ada, looking me in the face, and making me feel all kinds of affection and amusement. Goats! If you say "goats" in just such a tone, you can convey anything from adoration to vexation, and sometimes both at once. Goats.

Not big girls, not yet, but they've grown so much they're off the porch and in the run with the real big girls. They are in a dog crate, and have a separate area fenced off for little chicas only. The introductions between our established flock and these newbies is going well, but the new chicks are much too small to fend for themselves. In the early evening, I sit with them all and play referee, mediator, mama hen.

This evening, I came with a special treat. Our friend Lani came with enough chard to feed a farm... for goats, chickens, and soup for us, too! She says she has as much at home for her family... that is a happy garden bed she has going. Mako was the first to sample the beautiful greens.

Tasha and Ada don't peck and rip, like the chickens do. The goats inhale their fresh greens... I am reminded of feeding a paper shredder, everything is drawn in, devoured systematically, hardly pausing. Thank you, Lani. From all of us.

From left to right: Two Ameracaunas, Fiona the Buff, and two Laced Wyandottes, Pepper and Pippi.

Our oldest hen, Kamen, visiting the new girls. Kamen could tell them a thing or two about the world.

Pepper? Pippi? We just don't know! I am amazed by the gradual shift in the feather patterns and colors. More and more white is appearing in those black feathers. And I am so relieved to see that at least one of them is developing a distinctly hen-like tail. The blunt feather tips, and upright direction of her tail feathers is all hen.

Here's a comparison of sizes... about two months vs. three years. A big difference.

Pepper, Pippi and Fiona peering into the nest box. They are curious about everything, especially if it looks good to eat. They've learned to stay clear of the grown hens, and they'll have to learn to dodge the goats' heavy steps. The goats seem to regard everyone else as other goats. Mostly, they are polite, but the size difference can make them formidable when they are in a hurry, clumsy, or eager to establish boundaries. When goats see food they are in a hurry, clumsy, and eager to establish boundaries, all at once!

Chickens, too, like to establish boundaries. There will be a pecking order, and none of my mediating or refereeing will negate that! Being hen-pecked is all part of the chicken life.

You can tell she means business, can't you?

Birds of a feather... roost together! These are the Ameracauna hens, all ready to call it a night.

They've come home to roost: Pele, Koa, and Mako.

Now Kamen will have to figure where she lines up in the pecking order.

Even the little ones have figured out that when dusk calls, it's time to go to their mini-coop, to roost for the night. I put their food away, cover the shelter. The goats get a hay refresher, and last scratches.
Good night chicas. Good night goats.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Leave Everything Go To The Beach

We are a little rusty on our pick and go! spontaneity, but despite a few hurdles and speed bumps, I am so glad we decided to leave chores and home behind, to go to the beach. For a moment I thought, Oh dear, the kitchen is a mess... blahblahblahblah, then, fortunately, I concluded, If we were home "cleaning," we'd probably be making as many more messes as we cleared. Satisfied with my rational, I went into the waves with Maria, then buried my feet in the sand, and thought wasn't this a fine idea?

Lovely strange weather we are having, too. A bit balmy, with deep foggy bits, and large tropical raindrops evaporating as they land. Last night birds began their seasonal chorus, reminding us that it really is June, summer really is upon us. Other summer clues... Maria has no more homework for the last two weeks of school, Max and his team will test their trebuchet for AP physics, and that's about the end of his junior year in high school. Summer, and strange weather, sandy feet, and the end of school... what wonderful things to ponder, and enjoy.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Nuevos Pasos :: Ballet Folklorico

A big moment, all the dances completed, and dancers taking their bows, at the San Diego County Fair!

Maria and I have discussed keeping all of this straight... the dances she's learned, the performances she's been in. And even though they've been at this only six months, I've already lost count. So before there are even more shows to lose track of I am going to sort through photos and archives and write this down...

*Mid-November: First after school class

*January: Picture day for San Diego Fair banners

*February: First Performance, school talent show; La Costilla

*March: Switch, from La Costilla to Jesusita En Chihuahua, at Arts Festival

*April: Jesusita En Chihuahua, at First Thursday Downtown

*April: Jesusita En Chihuahua, at Street Fair

*May: Jesusita En Chihuahua, at Dia De Los Niños, Library

*May: Jesusita En Chihuahua, at school Fiestas

*June: Switch from Jesusita En Chihuahua, to Los Machetes and {with only three rehearsals!} perform at San Diego Fair!

The dresses, and boots are loaned to us from the dance studio, which is fortunate, because it would be a great expense and responsibility to buy dresses for every dance, and keep up with size changes, too. But, I've learned this can also be the reason dancers need to be switched around, especially when the class size increases. The teacher wants to include everyone, and so some dancers, like Maria, get moved up from the youngest (smallest dancers) and into whichever dance there are enough dresses for... does that make sense? It's a shuffling game, trying to outfit every dancer, and choreograph each group.

In the beginning there were the youngest and smallest, including Maria, in one group, and there was a second group of middle school dancers, and they've been dancing Los Machetes since December. An in-between group was created when too many very little girls joined the class, so the tallest girls were bumped to Jesusita En Chihuahua. All along, Maria has been in awe, and full of admiration for the older girls dancing Los Machetes, in their elegant black faldas and blusas. Just four weeks ago she got notice that she and her Jesusita En Chihuahua peers had to learn the big girls' dance, Los Machetes. Only three lessons to catch-up with the dancers who have had six months to learn and master their dance! It's been a bit much, actually, but Maria is so eager to dance, she just hangs in there and keeps at it. And just to be clear... we are not pushing, demanding, insisting, or bribing. When she looks worn out or defeated, I look her in the eye, and ask, "Are you happy?" Of her own will, she assess her state (thirsty, sore, tired, frustrated) and then she restates her resolve to move forward. Having possessed very little of this kind of ambition or devotion to anything demanding stamina and coordination, I am deeply admiring of her perseverance.

Nathalie and Maria, have learned the new steps... nuevos pasos.
{I learned how to crochet a bun cover (for her hair... is that obvious?) and to braid a yarn wrap}


There was a long, hot, wait {two hours} before they danced, and she was well worn out by the end of all of it... but it wasn't too long before she declared, "I think I'd like to do that, again." Maybe the strawberry covered funnel cake helped to revive her! Last night she asked me to sit with her and watch YouTube clips of Ballet Folklorico, and we shared our appreciation for steps, the swirls, the beautiful regional dresses, and styles, the talent and skills. And she said, "I'm not sure if Ballet Folklorico will be my life, if I will dance it when I am an adult, but I do love it, now." She's happy... we're proud.