Thursday, October 22, 2020

Back to It... Now With Images

Hello! It's me, Chickenblogger. I've been on an involuntary hiatus, because my computer expired. It was 8 years old. Is that old, for a computer? I never can tell. Geoff can tell. When he confirmed that my Mac was dying, I felt some small disappointment. Let's face it, after a year like we've all had, it takes more than a dead computer to rattle us. After resigning myself to not blogging, to not editing photographs, I practically forgot all about my desktop, and it hardly registered when Geoff mentioned ordering a new one. I wasnt trying to be ungrateful or dismissive, but Geoff, in his line of work, or helping the kids, says a lot about "computers" and "placing orders," and none of it is anything I am much help with. And now, it's been a whole month... Let's face it, after a year like we've had, days and weeks meld and blend, and time passes in ways that are difficult to grasp. A month has come and gone, and I have a very new, very beautiful computer. Geoff set it up, too. Thank goodness. It's my job to monitor how it's working, what isn't working, and so, here I am: Blogging, again. It's been weeks since I last posted, other than the experiment with the phone, and I am easing my way into familiarizing myself with this new machine. Let's see how this goes.

I've already forgotten what I have had to say about our front yard, so I may be repeating myself. We are widening our driveway, adding a retaining wall, putting in a deck, walkway, mini-deck, and eventually opening a walk-in gate by the Little Free Library. All of this has been in our plans for years, as part of our Make and Share activities. It makes less sense in the midst of a pandemic, with all of us socially distancing, but someday we will dance on the deck, and serve coffee and cakes, and hug, and sing. Someday. And all of these plans and improvements will be wonderful for these purposes.

Mike and Geoff are standing between the two Torrey Pines, and discussing the width of the deck. Mike is the best... we feel so fortunate to know him, to have had him do his amazing work here. This time, more than ever, I can see how lucky I am to have ideas, plans, creative inspiration + Geoff to help me figure out the practicalities and engineering, William and Alex to contribute design ideas, and then Mike to execute our vision(s). As much as I would have loved to contribute to the project, with hands-on help, I have total confidence in Mike's skill and artistry. I even gave him a box of odd bits to add to the steps going up to the deck... shells, stones, some fossils, glass. I want to introduce a bit of flotsam to the flora and fauna of this new garden vision, and I know he will do something good with my ideas.
Liberty, and Pepper's beak. I took Liberty's picture, mindful of the fact that she has aged a lot since spring, so have Pepper, Trillian, Lilikoi, and Emma Thompson. They are the dowager hens, now, and they seem to know it. Initially they were feisty and ruffled about the Chiclets, then the Happy Campers, and they were even laying eggs, but over summer they slipped into retirement, stepping back, stepping down, quietly. They go to roost early, and wander off to remote corners of the garden. They don't patrol and peck like haughty hens anymore. They are so much milder, my stately Chicas, and I am sentimental about them, nostalgic, too. It's such an honor to hold a chick, to shelter her and watch her grow, to appreciate her dramas, her close-calls, and special moments. Every hen has been unique, dear, sometimes maddening, often funny, and I love them, each and every one.

If there is one thing that surprises me most about what I am doing with art, it is my choice to do hard things. I used to avoid challenges... no buildings, no mechanical, hard things, like vehicles, or perspective, no starting over, or trying again on the same subject. One failure meant "never again," rather than I think I can do better. I was intimidated. I think I was lazy. I knew they would be hard, that they would turn out poorly. None of that has changed. But I don't feel embarrassed, as much. I don't worry about being bad, being an amatuer, or "wasting time." I wish these insights and perspective had come sooner. I figured it with crochet much sooner, and I have made loads and loads of poor, and useless things, but now I can make pretty things that I use, and enjoy. I am happy to say that I have made a good stack of "bad" art, lots of sketches, doodles, do-overs, paintings that will never be hung, paintings that showed me what does not work, what could work, what makes me want to try again.

It's almost noon. Just this little bit has taken up hours, and I thought I was going to put up pictures from September 25 through this morning, but I only have this one day... and I am done. Maybe I just want to go back to my painting, to sitting with the chicas and goats. Other times, when I have taken a blogging break, it felt a bit torturous, and I was thinking about it all the time, missing it. This month slipped by, and I hardly thought of blogging. The world has changed, for me, for you? I just know that things feel very different, very heavy, and someday I might have perspective, I might understand. Maybe, I don't ever want to understand. I keep asking, Why hate?Almost every bit of news, every horrific story of racism, of crime, of greed, of corruption, raises the same essential question in my heart, Why hate? We are thirteen days from an election that is a choice between love and hate. There are details, of course, issues, sides, policies, values... but it does come down to love or hate. And I am not sure I am ready to see the outcome.


gretchenjoanna said...

I can well understand why you might be ambivalent about getting a new computer. Now you're expected to take the time to be at the machine when you have so many other lovely things to do.

Did you get any feedback about which stucco color to use?

I will look forward to seeing what (southern) California natives you add to your nature center!

p.s. I couldn't view any photos on this post.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

That’s a good point! I feel spread thin, even between activities I enjoy. So maybe it was a relief to have fate intervene and give me a break. Besides, I’ve felt pretty obscure as a blogger, anyway. You are one of the very few (3? 4?) I can confirm read, comment. And, by the way, thank you for engaging with me. I am always equal parts relieved and delighted to find a new comment. No stucco feedback, and as it happens we do NOT like the color we chose. We went off a chart and the 1” square, that was dark, dried pale and hinting at pink. Oh. And when I hit “publish” and saw the pictures didn’t publish... I tried a few tricks, but then shrugged and walked away. Something must not be happy with things, and I’ll try today to unravel it. Geoff is my IT guy, but if anyone around here is spread thin, it’s him!! I really hope I can push the right button and straighten it out myself.
I should add... the project is 95% complete and except for the not quite right shade of stucco, we are thrilled with the results! I love to think how much nicer it will become when 1. We can really share it and have friends over and 2. The plants grow and fill in. I was able to get Ceanothus, manzanita, and sage! Happy anticipation and hopes.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

One more thing, Gretchen... I commented on your post "A Bean. A Life." And I am not sure it published.
I thanked you for the poem and reflections, which felt timely, and personal. I appreciate the goodness and reminder of the wisdom.

gretchenjoanna said...

I came back to this post expecting that you might have fixed the photos. And glad I did, because I've probably never seen a chicken's head SO close and detailed! That is, not held that still.... and I realized that I used to almost always let the children hold the chickens anyway. Once our son was holding one of his own hens, and she pecked his eyeball. He had a red spot for a long time. After that everyone was sort of on guard.

Thank YOU for engaging with ME! I think one of my favorite things about blogging has been the way, at its best, it lets me engage more with whole persons. That sounds impossible, when I am not actually with them in person, and most of the time haven't even met them in person. But with bloggers like you, who write about so many aspects of your physical, outward life and surroundings, your activities and loves, as well as your more abstract ideas, it enables us readers to feel that we know you -- of course it's just a little, but it feels like it might be a representative sample of who you are.

I am trying more than ever to relate to people as much as possible on the level of our common humanity -- I mean, to resist talking about ideas or ideologies... I notice that with my current neighbors, we seem to be living on that plane. We talk about the weather, our pets, who moved away or just moved in, our children and grandchildren and our gardens. Our gardens! And what we cooked from our gardens... and we pass our produce around, and our scones. Many of us have history together, 20 years or more, and I can count on them to help me if I need something. (But I don't think any of them have much knowledge of my thoughts and inner life such as anyone reading my blog could glean.) I can hardly believe it, but I have never talked about politics with any of them!! Maybe everyone feels the same way, that they want to keep a sort of safe zone here where we live our days.

Many of them, I haven't been inside their houses, even before the quarantine. In that way, it's like my blogger acquaintances and friends. Anyway, that's a lot of words to try to explain why I am thankful for bloggers like you and this nurturing sort of "place" some of us have, which I want to be careful to preserve as much as it is in my power. It's always encouraging to be reciprocated!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

As it happens, I had my first face peck incident, last week. Sweet Pea pecked my lip, hard! She's a sweet hen, and I didn't feel it was aggressive... more exploratory. I've been fortunate, I see, after 18 years of holding hens.
It is strange and difficult to describe... the thing about "knowing" bloggers, and from my perspective the idea that I share "everything." I am fascinated by the sociology/psychology, and the culture of what is happening in our selves and our relationships, through and because of social media. I could never say that social media is harmful, not entirely. Some of my closet, dearest friendships began through this blog. I imagine I could be harder to get to know in person, because I tend to be quiet, observant, shyer... and in the last two years that's even more pronounced, since the collision. On the blog, I can and do share a lot, because I have hours to compose my thoughts, and fewer interruptions. So, maybe there is a more "whole" representation of me here, then what I share as a neighbor, acquaintance.
We need our safe zones, more than ever, I think. I suppose, if I knew too much about some people I see often, it could create a strain. It sounds nice, beneficial, how you and your neighbors are relating, with gentle engagement, support... nothing divisive or intrusive. In fact, it's got to be the rare individual that can have heart to heart talks and interactions with all their neighbors! That would take, I imagine, tremendous patience, trust, and energy.
I am reminded that I once described FB and blogs as a front porch, where I can wave, or even chat with people passing by; some I see often and know better, some are absolute strangers. I may open a gate and invite some to sit on the porch. Close friends get closer, and have come inside, sat our table... and here, the metaphor becomes literal, and figurative. I am thankful, too, for bloggers like you... for someone more than a name I recognize. It's a lovely, gentle acquaintance that makes life richer, connection sweeter.