Saturday, December 03, 2016

Pink Martini ~ Je Dis Oui :: Three Hundred Thirty Seven

When Brian Davis hands you a musical instrument to play, say Yes! Je dis oui, then dance and move that percussion, while China Forbes sings Brasil, and the little orchestra is jumping!

When we saw Pink Martini, two years ago, I thought it would be a hard night to top. We loved everything about the concert, probably most especially seeing Maria say yes to joining the fun, dancing on stage, and meeting Brian Davis, Storm Large, hearing Zundoko live! It was more than, and better than, we had hoped for.

{I think it's about time for me to understand, to believe, that it's worthwhile to dream bigger!}

Dear Brian, thank you. Once again, you extended yourself to make an exemplary evening beyond imagining! I am not surprised, not when I consider the love of music you foster, wherever you go! Your personal attention to Maria, and the kindness you afforded her really touched us. We deeply appreciate the inspiration and confidence you inspired in her, and all the children you teach. It's gestures like these, and work like yours, teaching, that demonstrate your natural appreciation of music, that you lead by example, and that you are making the world a better place, and we think that is awesome.

The first time everyone was invited to dance on stage, Maria was happy to reintroduce herself to Brian Davis, to thank him, because she has such happy memories from the first time she met him. Then, for Brasil, there was the call back to the stage, for a conga line, and Maria dashed up, and that's when Mr Davis handed her a Latin percussion instrument to play with the band. Brilliant!

William, Ruth, Geoff, Maria~

Another successful Christmas in the City, our annual quest for art, science, music and light, with Max, Alex, and Bambi~

I know, I've said it before... that we love Pink Martini, that we play their music all the time, so of course dancing and playing with the band, seeing Thomas Lauderdale at the piano, hearing China Forbes exquisite voice, in person, all of this is something we feel excited for, enjoy. But this time I was struck by the added pleasure of enjoying something beyond the sound of Pink Martini: I love Pink Martini's passion, their way of reaching out to the world through music by being engaged, inclusive, broad minded, by making music, and playing it, in ways that respects skills, intelligence, history, cultures, languages, connection. I don't think it's so surprising that they have become this successful, have played together for twenty-two years, because their artistry, their work, their spirit is built on this substantive and well-considered foundation of innovative ideals, with hard work. Music can do a lot to build bridges, to spread ideas, like good-will, kindness, compassion, and when politics becomes divisive, when discord alienates us from each other, maybe a good tune, a little civil subversion, and a conga line, can lead us to common ground? I still believe there are more principles that we share, than those that divide us. Their sound, and their intentions play beautifully, together.

Hello, China. We're big fans. May I call you "China?"

Okay, I don't recall exactly what I said, but I have a vague recollection of fan gushing, just a bit. And. And, yes, I did manage to get in a plug for BOoM: Benevolent Order of Makers. But, you gotta know, it's because I think we have some common ground... Pink Martini makes music and they make connections with people and share what they do, which leads to goodness, learning, engagement... and BOoM makes music, and crafts, cosplay, instruments, shelters, robots, clothes, art, tools, and we share, and we make connections with people and share what we do, which leads to goodness, learning, engagement! Outreach, common ground, civil subversion, innovative ideas, good-will... these are well worth touting and singing about!

When China Forbes sings with this band... it's like seeing a family at play. It looks easy, like a pleasure. The respect and camaraderie flows, energy circulating. Hey, what can I say? I'm a fan. Looking up at the stage, watching them perform, hearing those tunes, voices, instruments, it's a pleasure, because something about them, about their smiles, their energy, their mastery of the notes, and the tempo, and the union of their parts, tells me this is really, really good. There are expert, technical, more "musical critic" ways of saying this, but... it's wonderful to listen to, watch, and feel a band play, and sing, this beautifully, together.

Pink Martini makes me want to dis oui.

Oh... and one more thing... ChickenBlog is on Instagram. Look for Natalie Chickenblogger, and BoomNerds (for Benevolent Order of Makers, our geek, maker blog.) I mention this because we are posting videos and other pictures there, and those are fun, so maybe you'd like to check them out.

On Instagram we can make photo collages, and post videos from our phone, and demonstrate even less self-control and editing than we do on ChickenBlog, which is fun, and awkward, and pretty cool.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Tuesday in Salem

On Monday, October 17, 2016... we visited Lauren, and her hens, and Marky, and we made art.

Then we drove home to Ken and Jennifer's place, where we were already comfortable and familiar enough to think of their place as home, and where we were treated to ice cream, just as though we really did belong there. A drive to Maine was on our schedule for the next day, including an explore of Salem Massachusetts. As much as I was looking forward to seeing our plans through, it was hard to imagine our trip being any more comfortable, interesting, fun, or beautiful than what we were already enjoying. Nonetheless, we had our rental car, and a pin dropped on the map, and we were about to embark on the next leg of our New England adventure!

I love the point when traveling, when I am about to come face to face with reality versus my mixed-up, naive, totally ignorant, or perhaps highly perceptive notion of what we are about to encounter. I did just a smidge of advanced research in preparing for this trip... looked over some websites, anticipated some places we thought might be essential places to see, like the Burying Grounds, and the ancestors. I took into account my recollections of American history lessons, and our interests in literature, and honestly, Halloween. So, I ask you, What could be more historical meets literary, and Halloween, than seeing Salem Massachusetts? It really felt like a slam-dunk, no-brainer, must-see place to visit. And it sort of was. Sort of.

We drove to Salem, and I admit, I could have been better prepared... had a specific destination or activity arranged, but we basically pulled off at the most promising exit, then turned at the most promising street corner, which happened to have a large, black home that literally said "Witch House," and then I parked the car in the first available space. I plugged some coins into a meter, and we looked up and down the street, and opted to go to our right.

Very scientific. Super strategic. I am an ace travel guide. Sort of.

We walked and walked and walked through some old neighborhood, and took pictures, and were absolutely delighted by things that we have never seen in our lives, sights all together new and fascinating, then we turned directions, and arrived in the heart of old Salem, and that was novel and fascinating, too. They definitely have got their visitors pegged, and all things witchy and sort of historic-ghoulish were amply displayed and available to consume. I am quite certain that had I done better research, we could have enjoyed sincere and reverent examples of local history, and of literary Salem, but... I didn't. And a lot of what we saw left me feeling intrigued, and not necessarily disappointed, but it did feel a bit... sad. A lot of what I noticed felt exploitive of a tragic history, of real people who suffered horribly at the hands of religion, and greed, and ignorance (if it's not too redundant to say.)

Still, no regrets. I've never seen homes with their entries turned away from the street, or such fittingly awesome looking Halloween touches... everything we try to achieve, back home, with decorations are just naturally, spookily achieved to perfect effect, practically effortlessly, in New England. We loved seeing the scenes and touches that are so iconic and reeking of picture-book Halloween. The gardens, the window displays, the bricks, cobblestones, the cemetery... it was all worthwhile. And if I could get my hands on a For Night Delivery Deposits door, like the one I saw in Salem, Massachusetts, that would be delightful!

Los Gatos :: Three Hundred Thirty Six

They line up, like jets on a tarmac, ready to take-off. Cairo is there, too, perched and ready to fly. They know when Geoff, or I, get up and go downstairs, their favorite breakfast will be served. Wet food for three, on one plate... I call it the peace maker. It works wonders.

Hang-on Foo, Chango. Just putting on my socks. Breakfast is coming up!

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Some Art :: Three Hundred Thirty Five

No one has seen the dining table, for weeks! We've been making art.

Alex is applying glaze to the ceramic forms he made. With this fine point stylus he discovered in a classroom locker, he can add elaborate illustrations and details to the sculpture he is making.

Back in November, Alex was sculpting the forms that he's glazing, now.

And in November I was busy, too, designing shapes to make little shelves. William offered to take my drawings, and add them to software for operating our CNC router, Frankenrouter. It sounds simple, but it's a lot of work, and he adds his own attentive consideration to the process, including layout, formatting, scale, and measurements. I feel so lucky to have his thoughtful skills and own artistic perceptions to help me get things done.

Then comes taking what William finished, and loading it into Mastercam... a notoriously fickle, yet indispensable operating system for CNC milling and routing. Now we have three artists and makers on my little project. I never underestimate the time and frustration some of my brilliant ideas can command! Fortunately, Geoff relishes a bit of tinkering and puzzle solving. His unique skills are always in demand, and much appreciated.

Maria, Emma, Amira, and Sarah~

When we celebrated Maria's birthday, it didn't take much more than paper and markers to make the party fun. Artfully so.

I love this collaborative, engaged activity... how it evolves and is interactive, but also spontaneous. Sometimes, art can be private and personal, need it's own space, but there is something energizing and stimulating about sharing space, too. The exchange affords opportunity for developing new skills, new ideas.

Thanks to William and Geoff, my little shelves are cut, and glued, and now, I sand. And sand. And sand. I actually enjoy this part.

And this part, too! Painting my cat shelf with a chalkboard surface paint! These little shelves are for holding tiny things, and are completely inspired by the ones I saw in Lauren's home. Of course, I slipped in another New England mention... the goodness has become ingrained in me!

Besides sculpting and ceramics, Alex is painting, drawing, working on his life drawing. And I would love to post more on this, but, to quote myself, "Sometimes, art can be private and personal, need it's own space." For now, just this peek.

Just before her birthday, Maria turned a corner of her room into a gallery, with her own work, and friends'.

Hmmmm... what if, when I am done with A Picture a Day, I took on Art a Day, and posted different art, every day, for a year? Since I have barely tapped what art happens here, since we could include Bambi, Paul, Janece, Delia, Yanina, Grant, Max, Amira, Holly, Izzy, Suki, Stacia, and more (so many more!) I think it could be a fabulous theme.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Maybe Pictures Are Enough

November 16...
"I started a new blog post, and was so enthusiastic about covering the subject thoroughly, in depth, that the subject started to get away from me, and I became overwhelmed by how much I was trying to include, and then I had to walk away... deluged by my own long-winded, rambling prose. Dang it. All the links, back story, sincerity, verbosity... frickin' bored me witless. Is this why I blog-fail? Dear naval-gazing Chickenblogger, why do you prattle on so?"

December 1...
Nothing I write seems to measure up to the way I feel, the way I felt, upon meeting Lauren Scheuer with, and thanks to, Jennifer. It's true: I am still star-struck and in awe of all things New England, our trip, our hosts, pumpkin stacks, Orchard House, leaves falling like rain, apple cider donuts, stone walls, and playing with friends. Now, here it is December, and this post sits on my computer, and I still have a dozen more posts I'd like to get down, keepsakes in words and pictures. Maybe you can see, in these moments, and glimpses, and maybe you will have some inkling of my joy, and wonder, my gratitude and pleasure. Maybe I don't need to say... much.

October 15, 2016

October 17, 2016

Thank you, Jennifer and Ken. I am still on a cloud, in a happy daze, from your warmth and generosity. More than ever, I feel a profound gratitude for what we shared, and enjoyed together... it's a reassuring salve that I turn to for hope, inspiration, for looking forward with renewed determination to pursue good.

Thank you, Lauren and Danny, and Angel, Marky, Lil White, Louisa, Ivy, flock sisters, and chickadees! Lauren, you are as infused with light, mirth, magnanimity, humor, and gentle kindness as your art, and every bit of it whirls around your home like fairy dust and genius. Thank you for opening your arms, your doors, your journals, your heart... your gifts to us were boundless.