Tuesday, May 31, 2022

A Few of Many Good Things

Well. This is ironic. I have anticipated the 20th anniversary of Chickenblog since about 2003, more or less, and with increasing interest and eagerness in recent years. And here I am making a last ditch effort to say something, anything, before the month is up. How did I let all of these many weeks pass since my last post, especially after enjoying keeping the blog on a regular(ish) schedule? I don't know. I feel like I've let myself down. Not in a big way, not so I am overthinking it... just low key. We have enjoyed some truly wonderful moments, occasions events, and happenings, and I would really like to put them down, for the sake of making records, and preserving memories. In the meantime I am going to see if I can discipline myself to a brief brief brief highlight post. Here goes!
We have newlyweds in the house! Alex and Bambi, our beautiful groom and bride, tied literal knots, surrounded by close friends and family, with a pink, full moon, flowers, and plentiful joy all around.
April 26 :: Sloane, Tarot, Bryce, Maria and Mushroom :: The Creative Writing Club held a second open mic, and it was even bigger and more heartwarming, compelling and good than the last one, which is saying a lot. Once again, or is it as always... young people restore my faith in the world, in what can be achieved and what we could reach if we just give them the mic, some space and light. These people have compassion and reason, and it's an honor and pleasure to hear their words.
April 30 :: Bella, Andrew, Leo, Carol, Michael, Grace :: Speaking of promising youth, Leo is an Eagle Scout! And Geoff and I had the honor of being recognized as Eagle Scout mentors. I shared about the Court of Honor in this Instagram Reel, and about the making of Leo's project in this second Reel. I really like making Reels. And I really love that we get to share such happy moments and rites of passage with dear friends.

It was always going to be a challenge, and times being what they are, this is a more phenomenal achievement than anticipated. There were a record number of applicants, and she had to wait longer than most to learn the news. Maria accepted admittance to the University of California at San Diego! Even when she believed she would need to make other plans, she remained devoted to her academics, and extracurriculars, including robotics, JNHS, writing, art, math, and government. I am not boasting, honest. I am being pretty low key. Anyway, we are so amazed at her dedication and steady, diligent love of learning, and so happy that she is happily anticipating being a Triton.

I miss this. I miss writing, and sharing pictures, and reading blogs. I have been away from my desk, busy, distracted, tackling one thing or another, some good, some not so good. You know. The world is spinning madly on, and we just do our best, right? I hope so. I miss this community, so I think I will make an effort to get back here, again, soon.
And Lily's Grannie, thank you. It was awfully nice of you to check in on me.

Friday, April 08, 2022

You Are Not Alone

Good Morning. Forecast says today's high temperature will be 90 degrees Fahrenheit, or 32.22 Celsius. It was at least the same, yesterday. Fortunately, it all cools down, again for the rest of the week. The hot days are uncomfortable, emotionally, as well as physically. I was about to link to the article, out this week, about the new IPCC report and how people are a factor in climate mitigation. Oddly, though the subject is urgent, pressing, I can't even bring myself to read more than the headline. News Flash: The Earth is in crisis and we, People, aren't doing enough to turn things around. It's too hot to rally. Also, I've alloted myself 25 minutes to sit in the cool, dark office, musing about any old thing, before I go back into the kitchen with the special spray bottle of UnGoo solution. Last night I tackled about 45% of the cabinets and both windows, unGooing all I can.
Pictures from my brother's BVI vacation keep loading into my computer. I guess that's something Whatsapp does? It's ten degrees cooler in Road Town, British Virgin Islands than here at the Bird House... in case you were wondering. What I have been wondering is... will we take a vacation this year?
I feel the draw, the wanderlust, somewhere in my being, to travel, to get away, but home still feels like the safest bet. I won't deny I am (have become moreso) increasingly cautious. Overcautious? It's not something I am enjoying... being worried, trying to think of every possible red flag for possible concerns. I think my over-thinking is a red flag. A warning sign that we should definitely take a vacation, switch things up, make an adventure, get away.

Oh, hey, the comments, on the last post, those were helpful. I was really touched by them. They felt like an open window, a stirring breeze. Thank you. I should take key words from those comments, and have them embroidered on pillows, framed and hanging around the home, so I can be reminded... of their wisdom, encouragement, and that I am lucky enought to know some caring, supportive people. Thank you! I have been re-reading your wise words, and kind, encouraging messages. I want to take them to heart, and be mindful.

Imagine these neatly stitched on soft linen, framed, and hung on the wall beside a shelf of fresh cut flowers. The shelf might be dusty, there could be a stash of laundry on the floor beneath, but take these words to heart, and...

Be Gentle With Yourself

You Are Not Alone

It's The Lovely People In Your Home That Family Are Coming to See

And this. This advice resonates with me. It's simple and I can appreciate that it would work for me, and it also pushes me to level up to match my thinking with my actions, by being consistent, diligent, even if in small increments. Laura Bray wrote, "For me, the trick to my homemaking has been to keep myself from doing too much at once. I put on a timer for one hour, two or three days a week, tackle one area, and when the timer goes off, I walk away. I just keep cycling through my home, focusing on one area each week, so I know I will get back to whatever I didn't finish. It's surprising how quickly things become "ship shape" this way." This! I want to adopt this habit, internalize this practice, and as I re-read it over and over, it is feeling like an affirmation, encouraging, wise, good.

Bird House Notes: My blogging timer is up, now I am going back to wiping down cabinets and degunking surfaces. And I am setting a timer for those activities, too. So, the question remains... what restful, distracting, amusing, engaging activity will I enjoy between window cleaning, and tackling laundry? April 8, 2022

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Domestic Perils, Again

The dried lavender I kept in the hall was too dry. Do you know what I mean? It still smells amazing, but bits were going everywhere, and it was dusty, but of course you can't dust dry flowers, because the bits go everywhere. Anyway, I was taking them out to the compost, when I remembered that herbs, like lavender, rosemary, oregano, make good nest box material... pretty, and practical against pests. I left the whole bunch on the counter top. The hens fuss with it, and the flowers, those bits, go everywhere, but in a pleasing way. And even over all of the farm smells, I can smell the beautiful lavender. I like this kind of tidying up, where one good deed leads to another. Our hall is looking better, dusted and refreshed, and the hens, certainly, appreciate the touch of elegance dried flowers bring to their space.

If you have been following our quandry about the cat drama... we think we have figured something out. But, first let me go back: There were was some high energy antics on the porch, and a pot fell over. It may have hit a cat, or maybe the plant stand hit a cat. We know for sure that the noise and scare of it freaked all three of them out, and they scattered and one of them made a distressing wail. We checked each of them for bumps and breaks and they seemed ok, but they were not. Sakamoto hid. He would not come out of hiding, not even for food and that is simply unheard of! Feynman was incensed, hissing and growling, puffing up mad! And he positioned himself, always between Sakamoto and Cairo. Cairo was utterly confounded. And this tense stand-off and drama was what we had to deal with for days. Feynman was dogged about keeping Cairo away, would chase him, attack him. Sakamoto was only concerned with staying out of the way, and Cairo looked increasingly victimized and distressed. We tried seperating them, re-introducing them with treats and affection. We had to keep them in different rooms, and rotate them, and everytime we thought things might be improving, Feynman would dig his heels in and react to Cairo like he was the worst kind of villain. It was a stressful 4-5 days. Increasingly we had more frequent moments of peace, of possible reconcillation. And the good news is, we do have a cease-fire.

Here is what we have figured out: We believe Feynman must have very very poor vision, and under duress, he is wary of many things, including the black and white cat, that he seems to believe has broken into our house. If he and Cairo are nose to nose, it's as though nothing was ever wrong, but when Feynman sees Cairo, at a distance of, say, 2-3 feet away, he is wary, suspicious. Now we notice Feynman can even be circumspect about us, or things that appear suddenly. He startles easily, and stares at people, or even high contrast patterns... like our bathroom floor, or Cairo, the black and white cat. When we adopted him the woman in charge of their care assured me that his weepy eyes were just a reaction to the environment, he's fine, she insisted. Well, the weepy eyes have never stopped being messy, concerning, and when the vet saw him, he didn't think any treatments we going to make a difference. But Feynman has always had half-closed, drowsy, weepy eyes, and I think we will ask our vet, again, to take a look. And this is the point when I imagine Professor Feynman with some spectacles, and I think he would look darling. Black rimmed glasses, nothing too heavy. If you've read all the way to this point, and kept track of all of the characters and plot, then I should like to send you a prize, maybe a Chickenblog Merit Badge. I should come up with something like that. Thank you for reading this riveting tale!

Well.

I intended to post more. I have a load of pictures, deep thoughts, and other musings, all ready to go, but really what I should be doing is more of that tidying, dusting, refreshing. My Mom and Dad are coming to town, soon, and other family, too. And Geoff and Max are still plugging away at their work, and... it's busy here. Really really busy. One more thought... the more I clean, the more I find that needs to be cleaned. It's almost a shame I started in the first place. (Just the kind of twisted reasoning that gets me in a mess, I am sure.) I went in for scrubbing our kitchen cabinets, and they got gummy. So I ordered the special cabinet cleaning, goo-gummy solvent and tried again, and it's helping, sort of. Wow. It's likely I don't have a point to make here. But maybe, please, say something encouraging, something to give me courage and faith, because I am surrounded by domestic perils, and daunting tasks, and I don't see how I can ever achieve the kind of shiny success I am after, and I do wonder if I can get close to bringing order, if we shouldn't put the place on the market, and move to an Island, live in an open, rambling house, that isn't very big, or too precious, or a treehouse? I don't know. This may just be blatant, overt avoidance. When's lunch?

Friday, April 01, 2022

Make More Merrier

The more the merrier, and making makes us merrier, and the more we make, the... well, you get the idea. Supposedly a good title for blog posts will increase traffic and ratings, and give more polish and sophistication to your blog. Clearly, I am not on that path.
All I was trying to express, was that we were at it again, a happy work party, making flowers, and planting flowers, sprucing up, and even soldering. We want to make as many paper flowers as we can, for decorations. The soldering is for these very clever little mushrooms that Alex, Bambi, and Geoff have been devising. Now, they are assembling them and they look wonderful. Pictures, soon, I promise. It was a beautiful day, and fun, too. Hey, how amazing are our friends? Invited over to "work," which felt a lot more like play, because everyone made it fun, and so much was accomplished with a good mix of laughter, catching up, and sharing news, ideas, plans. If things continue like this, relatively safer for gatherings, I will be so thrilled to start up more of Maker events!
All of the old barrels I've amassed over the years were moved to the driveway, so we could fill them with new plants, and lots of flowers. I think I mentioned that my gardening energy was totally sapped after 2020. It feels so good to have more intention around the garden, to be growing flowers, even some veg, and to get these barrels full of life and cheer, again! I am changing, growing, and adapting, too... I was always in charge of my gardening. I did the hauling, lifting, planting, weeding, watering, planning, but it's not as easy as it used to be, for several reasons, which I won't dwell on... Anyway, suddenly, the work was getting done, and I wasn't in charge or doing it all on my own. I wasn't even directing. Bambi and Alex were taking the initiative, and Maria, an actual Junior Master Gardener, and member of the Native Gardens Club, was overseeing the planting, making sure root balls were gently cared for, and soil was loose, then gently patted down. Bex, and Alicia were mindful, fast learners. Bambi and Gordon were terrific. Suddenly, the barrels were filled, and pretty, and everything smelled good, felt good. I just took pictures, and delighted. Friends! And family, and all of this lovely busy-ness. What a brilliant balm, and tonic.

Alicia, Bex, and Maria

Geoff popped outside for a while. He is still tied to his desk, until mid April. Ruth came by, and she had paper flowers already made! Diana and Lucas were over, and we talked about all sorts of things, including good places to eat, ordering tunics, and Diana buying her first bicycle at The Yellow Jersey, Madison, Wisconsin. Leslie came, Bex came with her friend, Alicia, and Spencer brought Owen. Carol and Grace and Michael were a lot of help, and good company. Okay... I feel so happy about this, about how nice it is to be around friends, doing just about anything, I really do want to re-start the Picnic Days.
Gordon and Bambi
Owen and Spencer, checking out the selection of Japanese snacks and treats.
This poor tree often looks at the end of its life, but Gordon trimmed it up, and the improvement is appreciable.
Diana was the master of seperating the flowers petals. She had the patience and gentle touch to pull apart the delicate layers of the two ply napkins, and the results were sumptuous flowers, like peonies!
Owen tried his hand at flower making, too! He did great! Everyone does. If you would like to try, we have a tutorial. All you need are napkins (Ikea's are terrific,) string and scissors.
Here are Bex and Leslie... either looking up medieval dresses, or the address for the Indian restaurant that is so amazing! We were having some very good talks about amazing food places.

Gordon, soldering, and smiling. I am smiling back.

Bird House Notes: For the first time in 42 years, we are supposed to be able to see Northern Lights -aurora borealis, tonight, in San Diego County! Really?? It's pretty overcast in this corner of the county, and I wonder if we should drive somewhere and hope to get in the best position for seeing this event. What would that be, I wonder... the best spot and conditions? Even though this could be far far easier to accomplish than traveling to Iceland, it still feels kind of daunting... but am I going to kick myself if we miss the lights? Yes. Yes, I might be hugely bummed. April 1... hold on. This better not be an April Fool's prank. April Fools is cancelled. Seriously, what's funny about pranks and foolery after the 2016 election, a global pandemic, the melting ice caps? April 1, 2022 (Yeah. I fell for it... April Fool!)

Time for tea. No. Breakfast. Time for breakfast. I need it to be a Mexican breakfast, por favor! Machaca, like at the Hotel De Anza, Calexico. Beans, and tortillas, harina, maiz, hechos a mano, por favor. Cafe con leche. Chorizo con huevo. Una mordita de pan dulce. I am gastronomically homesick. Atole. April 2, 2022

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Hello? It's Me

Hello. There has been a long string of unfortunate events, for me, for friends, for acquaintances, for distant relations, and total strangers. I feel them keenly. My thoughts and heart are preoccupied with our collective trauma, with world events, and the long lasting effects of all of the stuff we have faced, endured, witness, suppressed... it's been too much. I worry about us, you, and me, and the total strangers. I am concerned about the pandemic of depression, the ache of pushing through one crisis after another, and so little relief. It's never felt like this before, not on this scale, not in my experience. I have had practical strangers pour their hearts out to me, desperate for relief, caring, sympathy, healing? Even that televised slap (if you don't know, just be glad) felt like a metric of distress, of mental collapse and broken communication. So much hurt, exhaustion, strain, and our reactions can be be misplaced, displaced, to retreat, or surrender. I have retreated, for better or worse. It was partly a pity party, I'll admit. And maybe that's just as well. Maybe it's better to sit with my thoughts and feelings, rather than blurt it all, or come out fighting. Anyway, I was enjoying blogging regularly, feeling like, if nothing else, at least I had a tidy and up to date blog. I recognize that writing helps me sort the tangles and details of living, even distills the hard bits, so I can see clearly all of the good, the beauty, the successes. When too much sad and stressful, disappointing things overwhelmed me, I couldn't take thinking about it, let alone trying to put it into print.
Someone reached out to me, offered a virtual hug, and a reason to smile. And it made a tremendous difference. Little is solved, as far as the things that I have been grappling with, or concerned about, for my friends, for those strangers, but I went through about two weeks of snapshots on my phone, and happily, there is plenty of evidence that I have seen beauty, and good, and successes, and I want to put a pin in it... hold it down, and come back here to remind myself, to appreciate the progress, the smiles, the sweet. Sweet, like our kitties, napping together, and the view from that bathroom window. The window, on that day was a source of intrigue as heavy machinery has been grading the, now, empty lot, and they took a way a ginormous palm tree. I am sorry for the birds, but the process was riveting. Amelia, thank you for befriending me.
Bambi and Alex, taking steps toward matrimony. They are firm about keeping things small, intimate, and I respect that... but I can't help taking pictures! I love what I see... two dear people who have the gift of bringing out the best in each other.
Even when I get too blue to blog, I can't give up Instagram. I love taking pictures, and the convience of having them all in order, with notes and details, is irresistible. I have been trying to keep up with some of William's projects, recording and sharing them, including the paper moon, the cart... more, lots more. William has been a gentle hand on my shoulder, equally nudging me forward, and supporting me. He helps me get a lot of things accomplished.
Maria, and Max, too... diligent and hardworking, making so many strides in their pursuits. Maria attended the FIRST Robotics Competition in San Diego, and enjoyed both robots, and seeing the team recognized for some personally gratifying achievements, plus we saw many dear friends. I will post about these moments, soon. Max is pushing through the long crunch season, like Geoff. The company's annual drive to complete a new game is more intense than ever, and it's not an easy introduction to "9 to 5." When Max clocks out, he is more than ready to game, read, write, walk, and converse with his siblings. He's ready for the break that is coming soon. We all are!
We are popping out... I still wear a mask. I figure, as long as Maria has 'exposure to COVID' notices from school, and has to test, I will wear a mask in public. Other than worries about getting sick, the outings are helpful, even if still a bit strange, tiring. It was always a concern of mine that any time spent isolating, in lockdown, would be too convenient for me, too easy, because of the car crash PTSD, all I ever wanted was an excuse to stay home, away from crowds, noise, busy corners, and taxing stimulus. Now I find it harder than ever to be in a car, or crowd, to navigate things and activities all around me. And about the crowds... our town is a favorite of tourists, but has always quieted down in the fall, until summer holidays, but not since COVID. I guess people are seeking out the beaches, restaurants, trails, and sights, more than ever, and we have been quite astonished at the year-round hustle and bustle, even at the local market, the places where things used to be winter-mellow. A week-day hot chocolate, a stroll around garden centers, the corner table at the taco place we all love, these are nice. And maybe, soon, we can bring back our Picnic Days. I do miss those.
Small wheels that pivot... the cart is looking better and better. I am glad Geoff enjoys his projects, and helping with other people's projects, and I am glad he can still work from home, so he can step away from the desk, stretch, and clear his head for a moment with other things besides, graphs, and code, and new platforms.

Bambi, Alex, Tori, Armand, Max, Maria, Lucas. I like this last picture when they obliged me a group photo, and some of them have the "how many pictures is she going to take?" expressions.

Every Saturday... Dungeons & Dragons. Dungeons & Dragons & Friends & Laughter & plans, engagement, support. This time Tori had some special treats to celebrate the groom, and the bride, and friends, and dragons. Tori's cupcakes were both delicious and beautiful.

Maria is sticking with her love of school, with following her curiousity and love of learning. No signs of "senioritus," thus far. She was so glad, thankful to get a chance at the screen-printing, to go to the Regional event for robotics, to read The Poisonwood Bible, and now The Grapes of Wrath. Math is going well, so is English, and government and economics. She is thinking of going to prom, maybe even grad-night. I am pretty sure all of these things are going to be upon us in, seemingly, no time, and then it will be graduation time. Twelve years ago, Maria showed an interest in embroidery. I set her up with a hoop, needle and floss, and she caught on readily enough. But it didn't hold her interest for much longer than it took to stitch that one flower. My own experience with sewing was similar. I dabbled as a girl, but never got proficient, never stuck with it. But the skills sort of stuck with me. I have found that all of the lessons and passing interest in things have come back in later years, and have helped launch renewed interest, and the patience to improve and enjoy... crochet, embroidery, quilting, handsewing and mending, even making clothes. I am glad she tried embroidery, and I was even more glad that I didn't press her or force it. On her own, in the Fashion Design class, she's picked it up, again, and I love what she's making!

I've seen a meme, or quote, something, going around Instagram... an audio clip plays, of someone telling us that we don't have to perfect our hobbies, that there's no rule that says we must become experts to enjoy our pastimes. It's brilliant, I think. I have wasted too much time concerned about how good I can be at something before I am worthy of it, before I can say I enjoy it, or can share it, or claim any ability, or attachment. I used to hold too much favor for the idea of natural talent, and I would give up or feel embarrassed for things I wasn't good at. For certain, I am ready to celebrate anyone else's amateur status, their effort and enthusiasm matters more than the results, for me. Now, I am increasingly eager to give myself the same grace. I play ukulele. I play infrequently, and badly, but when I play, it makes me happy. I bake, occasionally and I have made some delicious cakes, and some really ugly ones, but I like doing it. I have ridden my bicycle 4,540 miles... not in a jersey, or with special shoes, never in a race, or on a course, but happily, and surprisingly regularly. I like to think that if we all just dabble, and play, try new things, whether we are fair-to-middling, or even kind of awful, but happy, amused, engaged, and if we encourage each other in play, expression, in exploring... it might help, it might bring some of the relief, caring, healing, that so many of us are seeking.

Bird House Notes: Days are hard, harder, and harder, and even as I consider this truth, I am chagrined... because, you know: War, famine, violence, poverty, heartache, all the things people are enduring, and suffering, so that I feel positively ridiculous thinking I have hardships. But I do, and so does just about everyone I hear from, talk to, observe. And at some level, I am feeling their anguish, too. Even our cats'! Out of, seemingly, nowhere, they are in a three way turf war, psychologically in an utterly confounding conflict. Sakamoto is terrified and hides. Cairo is confused, cowering, and tormented by Feynman, who stands guard near Sakamoto, and will growl and attack Cairo. Uhhh... sigh. Was I going to delve into cat drama? What I want to do is to express my compassion, my deep concern for everyone that is struggling, and my awe and respect for everyone that is doing the essentials, attending to anything, small or great. Did you move your laundry around, order a pizza, mail a letter, sit with a friend? Applause! I feel like I could redefine "disfunctional." I am operating in a paradoxically high functioning realm of disfunction. Somehow, I move forward, even as I feel I have reached what surely must be bottom, or the end of a rope. Not my rope. Some rope. My rope snapped a long way back. I was aiming for encouraging... I am thinking of you, and you, and hoping that you are finding respites, support, motivation, a good plumber, or whatever helps. March 30, 2022