Saturday, January 02, 2016

Friday, January 01, 2016

Last Year ~ New Year

This. This may serve to represent everything I wish for you, and you, and you... bliss, warmth, contentment, optimism, health and plenty, security, affection, humor, faith, love. Ada and Tasha, Foo, Chango, all the chicas, even our fish, and us, wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Yesterday I was still reading birthday wishes and sweet messages that came through FB. Are you on FB? I know it can be the cause of all kinds of headaches, and modern maladies, but the telephone was once a new fangled thing, mail, telegrams, chatting around a table and sitting in chairs, were novelties, once, too. Well, anyway, I can't express well enough how touching it is to read kind words from friends and family, to make connections around the world. I couldn't, practically, stay in the moment and connected with Spain, and Oregon, Massachusetts, Australia, Florida; it seems difficult enough getting together with neighbors! And so, I felt kind of giddy, and special, with each funny picture, each thoughtful gesture and remembrance from people I know, people I miss, people I care about, and I think it is a very cool thing to send and receive those moments. And of course there were face to face moments, too, and regular post, and phone calls... I loved it all. Thank you.

What else... I'm not sure I was ever entirely convinced that yesterday was the last day of 2015. The very last one. It was a pretty last day, and we did some nice things, like visiting our pets, sweeping, watching Alex's Scotland slideshow, making our special NYE drink... frosty pineapple juice topping pomegranate juice with lime pop, in fancy glasses! We toasted the New Year about East Coast time! Cousin Nick joined us, and they're all snoozing, now. And. I guess now is the new year, 2016. I am still letting this sink in.

Last year...
Nasturtium leaves, and sunshine. Cool days, cold nights, and rain in the forecast.

Tasha and Ada, and leafy alfalfa.

Drought lawn, and cat. Mister Foo rolled in it, and the sunlight.

Orpington feathers from the bobcat attack. Chickens won: Chickens 13, Bocat 0.

She lays blue eggs.

Indian Hawthorn, Spring Sonata. White-pink blossoms, and blueberry blue berries.

Seed pod, Douglas iris.

Foo watching us watching him.

Yes. Rice pudding. Technically, it's all mine. The entire dish of homemade rice pudding. But only because I am the only one here who likes rice pudding. And by "likes rice pudding," I mean holds it in honorable esteem, fondly recollecting the autumn of 1975 when I tasted my first rice pudding at a potluck in a barn, in Carlsbad California, and have become fixated on a mission: find that same flavor and texture, the hiraeth of rice pudding. There really are no words to fully express how deeply Ruth's gift touches me, but I will say, Thank you, from my heart and soul.

New year... well, it's just begun, and we hardly know what is in store for us. I am hoping it's about peace growing, spreading, taking a firm hold on us all. I'm wishing for rain, and snow, in all the right places, and sunshine where that's needed, too. I am crossing my fingers for people to stop idling their cars in front of schools, sitting with windows rolled up and ac churning, waiting around for the world to feel comfortable for just them without caring a wit about the air, the ozone, the stink... yeah, that. I am thinking about the new year teaching me a thing or two, about managing my time, growing, daring, doing more, speaking up, moving forward.

Just this morning...

It's looking very nice, so far.

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!