Monday, March 04, 2024

Not Planned

I was feeling a groove about posting again, and so pleased that I had even figured out some long standing mysteries with the code. This recent absence, sudden and long, was not planned.
One thing that made me reluctant to blog in recent years are the issues around "over sharing" and particularly sharing things that aren't my story to tell. Right now is one of those times. We are in the midst ofcoping with a sad and tragic event that happend two weeks ago. It has been traumatic, for many people, including (especially) Maria. And it has had ripple effects, that were initially more like crashing waves. The event was sudden, unexpected, sad, traumatic, and the waves have caused a long, hard list of big changes, painful decisions, and difficult challenges, plus grief.

Vague posts can be so annoying! I know. And it begs the question Why say anything at all? I am sharing something, anything, because this is genuine, this is our reality. It is, as yet, too tragic, too proximate and fragile and awful to disclose fully. It is too all consuming and central to everything we have been doing for 13 days, to deny or surpress.

I wish... many things. But one is that I had taken the time to put into words how lucky I felt as a mother of a young woman in college. I felt, everyday, that I could not have asked for, nor imagined, a more ideal housing experience for Maria. From the begininng, up until last week, it felt safe and healthy. These four young women, sharing an apartment on campus, were responsive and respectful, kind, mindful. The first year was such a happy arrangement, that they applied to be roommates, again, this year. My mind was at ease, my heart was thankful. I wish I had shared posts about the dinners they cooked together, the celebrations they made, how they regularly checked in with eachother, yet were mindful of eachothers' privacy, personal space. I wish I had shared at least one or two pictures of these bright, young women, being so capable, so happy.

For now... please, share your time and caring, whenever you can. Check in on your friends, even the ones that always seem so happy. We have been through hard years, maybe our young adults especially. I'm not sure they understand that things can get better, or that they matter more, to more people, than they may be able to comprehend. Tragedy can make horrible waves, and kindness can makes waves and ripples, too. We could all use more of those gentle, supportive waves... the kind that lift us up, bouyant, warm.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Some Views

If I had kept up with blogging, there would have been half a dozen, or so, posts about the cats, specifically about how Feynman has become something of a terror for Cairo. In all of my life I have never had a cat behave as Feynman has. His temperment and behavior turned on a dime, and he chases Cairo, mercilessly. He hisses and growls, and stalks him. It went on for weeks last spring, and then stopped. But then it starts up again. We are in a session even now. And as though on cue, Cairo just popped up on this desk. He is watching the door, wide eyed and vigilent. Feynman is surely out there, on the prowl. We have had to keep them in seperate rooms. Cairo will lose weight and fur, just from the anxiety, we suppose. Poor poor kitty.

Oh!! Would you look at that? Success! Finally, a successful search for the correct html code for making a space in the text. You guys, this is amazing, as well as humbling. This is such a fine example of how hard I have been struggling with even simple, basic tasks. Ever since the accident, it is like there are curtains, fog, walls, invisible barriers, and I fight and push and struggle to get through them, or sometimes something gives, and the fog lifts just long enough for me to grasp the situation and function. I have wanted to make spaces between paragrpahs for a couple of years and nothing I did worked. Now I know what to do, again. I want to celebrate the breakthroughs, the healing, but I am also worn down, and disheartened, because daily I am reminded that I lost so much, that I keep trying to be all better, but I am not. It feels as though I am only running into the broken bits, and the bits I cannot recover, and I feel so tired and defeated.

Dirty laundry. Oversharing. In the early days, I got a lot of advice and cautions about not oversharing, or getting too personal in my accounts of life and other's lives. Airing dirty laundry is one of those tricky things to balance in social media, blogging. And by the way, Cairo is sleeping on clean laundry, but of course the dirty laundry of that picture is that I am sharing an untidy life, an old and sullied chair, the unstaged, messy side. Funnily, I have an absolute dread of being seen, of my messes, and chaos, and untidy life, even as I share hints and glimpses, and confess readily: I am a terrible, no good homemaker, and I have only gotten worse.
Feynman. And Cairo.
And Sakamoto? Sakamoto is the least likely to be a target of Feynman's periodic snap and obsession, and maybe that's because Saki and Feynman are siblings. Or maybe it's because Saki is such a wholesome innocent, and makes himself practically invisible.
The backside of the Ratty and her bird friend. Do you like looking at the backside of embroidery? I do. And I like running my fingers across the stitches, especially the ones that are close togther and running in the same direction.
Etersheim is in North Holland. Noord Holland. Did I mention? I fell in love with the sound of Dutch, and studied it for over a year, just using Duolingo. Then I went to Sweden, and oh my! I fell in love with Sweden, and have been studying Swedish since the end of August. But last week I dreamt in Dutch, and I wonder if I should go back to practicing Nederlands. I am tempted to practice both.

Etersheim. I am in love with Etersheim, because it is restful and small and there are sheep and paths and fields. I stitched the name in linen thread that I found in a shop in Amsterdam. I want to stitch other names, too, of places I have visited, places I have been brave, daring, peaceful, inspired.
The whole rainbow was visible, end to end. I took that picture, too, but the sight of it makes me cringe, because our yard is a mess. It is so ridiculous that I never saw it coming! We planned about the accessory dwelling unit for years. We talked about taking out the pool, and changing the septic system, adding pits and new tanks, and how we would have to move tons of earth, not to mention concrete. I focused on the idea of a whole house replacing the pool, about construction and supplies, and paint, and moving things around... but I never anticipated our backyard, the parts not under the actual construction, being destroyed. I have lost count of how many trucks and cars, and men, and heavy machinery, and loads of lumber, stone, drywall, roofing... how much traffic was in the yard. The lawn was buried, scraped, buried again. The dust! OhMYGod. The dust. And not only our dust, but every neighbor, in every compass direction, was doing some kind of construction, so even if we were quiet, something was rumbling, hammering, digging, somewhere. It's been 14 years of nonstop work, at any of the houses next to ours. Anyway, our garden is a mess. It's not even a garden. It's something between a salvage yard and an abandoned lot, but with chickens, and stuff. Lots of stuff. And when it rains, it is muddy stuff. And weeds. Lots of weeds. I am not complaining. I am just saying that it is not pretty. And I never anticipated that we would have to start all over and try to restore things. But, yeah. We need to make that plan.
Here is some of the yard. Don't, please, say "It doesn't look that bad." This is a forgiving angle. And the sky is breathtaking. And the clouds are fluffy, like in a child's painting. We have an appointment with a grader... someone that can operate machinery to move around dirt and make the yard level, or sloped so that water goes away from buildings and to drainage places. This will be step 2 of landscaping. Step 1 is us making a plan for what we want, what we need, and what we can afford. I think step 3 is order a dumpster.
Hello Cairo.
Ruth gave Geoff a birdfeeder for his birthday. I love it. Thank you, Ruth! It's just as she described it... simple to fill, easy to clean, and the birds come readily and eagerly. It took a few days for them to notice, then trust it. I moved it closer to the guava shrubs, where I know they like to sit anyway, and that made all the difference. I haven't got any pictures of birds, yet, but all day long it is visited by finches, and sparrows, by the scrub jays, California towhee, spotted towhee, dark-eyed juncos! I can watch them from the window above the kitchen sink, which makes dishwashing an easier task. And, as soon as I am done with this post, I am going to wash windows. Remember all the talk of dust? I have refused to wash windows until our construction, and the neighbors' is done, but for birding, I am ready to make an exception!
Alex and Bambi made ratatouille. Alex uses the mandoline to slice the squashes, and eggplant, and tomatoes. They make it such a beautiful dish.

William and I went to see Maria at school, and she took us on a walk where she has found a secret garden. We also saw more of 8th College, the latest, nearly completed college at UCSD. And then we walked back to 6th College, and went up to the 10th, and 9th floors, to compare the views. We agree the view from the 9th floor is best. The clear sky gave us views beyond La Jolla Cove, and north as far as Dana Point, I think. And there were paragliders out, and closer by, ravens.

It is strange to me that when I was last blogging Maria was just beginning, and I was grappling with letting go, and trusting, and observing from a greater distance as she embarked on this new adventure. And now... now she is comfortable, familiar, experienced, confident. She isn't far from finishing her second year, from planning upper division courses. Our nest is not empty. It simply expanded. It's not the same, though. It's clearly a new phase in our lives, now that all of the children are adults. No more grade schools, no more sack lunches, persmission slips. Maria is charting her own course, and navigating. She runs things by us, and openly shares her thoughts, and plans, but she is taking the reins. In a gradual, mindful way, she is, as always, growing. I am so happy that I have had the pleasure of seeing these days.

Now, to the window! Just the two. I hope that when they are clean, I can not only see better, but maybe I will get some decent pictures of the birds at the feeder.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024


Today I inserted a post in the archives, because I want to fill in the gaps from the months and months when I wasn't posting. Besides that, I also want to address the technical challenges that are vexing me. Blogger needs updating, but I am afraid it is a format or app or dinosaur that Google has likely entirely abandoned. There are so many obstacles and glitches and features that seem to be obsolete. It is very frustrating. Anyway, despite all of that, people seem to have found Chickenblog, again, and I have to say your comments are delightful. Thank you. (Have I mentioned that I cannot figure out how to create paragraphs?? Nothing in html or formatting is any use. Help? Sorry.) Well. Thank you for your patience. And, here is a ratty-rat that I recently finished. I have been doing embroidery on two yards of linen. I bring it when I travel, so I can wrap up, or make shade, and it gives me a canvas for stitching, on planes, and trains, on barges. It makes me very happy.

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

Incrementally Smaller

Intentions, and process. I was going to say "intentions and results," but that would be to deny that I make some progress, eventually. I did unravel the tangles, I even enjoyed the task. And I did mend a favorite sweater, which was my intention. So, that's good. I am just trying to unravel why I struggle so with the process. Ah, but why feign ignorance? I have a rather solid understanding of why I am struggling.
It feels like my accomplishments, even my goals, are becoming incrementally smaller and smaller. I like to stay home. I like to drive the slow way. I want to avoid the crowds, the rush, the places where freeways merge. I need long stretches of time and empty space between errands. I think... I am becoming incrementally smaller.
There are still so many things that I discover I had forgotten (a souvenir from the drunkladydriver incident.) Recently I was thinking of journaling like I did many years ago, when I made lists of things I love. Those lists, probably from middle school, were so much fun to make, so gratifying. I felt like it was a means of tallying up all the tangible evidence of me, of who I was and what I was made of. It felt like a comforting way to identify who I am and to be recognizable, to myself. It's not so hard to lose that sense. That sense of knowing, and feeling recognized.
I should probably list things that need to get done, too. That is a seemingly infinite list, and daunting, too. But, for the record... I completed a big one: We have countertops installed in the little house. The ADU. Accessory Dwelling Unit. The granny flat. I want to name the new house, and I like The Greenhouse. When we first tried buying our home, I called it The Blue House, and by the time we moved in, years later, it had become The Bird House. This paragraph is already a fine example of assembled tangents, and so I will add one more... there can be no doubt of the diagnosis, I definitely have ADHD. Now, to the lists. I am going to find some paper, and a good pen.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

So Nice!

Thank you! I never imagined anyone was going to find me here, at least not for a while. So, it was a nice welcome back to get comments.
Did I ever mention a big construction project? Really big. I may not have got into it. (Whoa! I did mention it actually. Of course it was ages ago.) Wow. Coming in here, at the 11th hour, everyone can breath a sigh of relief because I have spared us all of my trauma drama. Deconstructing a pool, digging septic pits, adding septic tanks, rerouting electrical and plumbing, moving out-buildings! The logistics and orders of operations, the crews, and equipment, dust, mud, noise! And for what? We are completing an accessory dwelling unit, aka a "granny-flat." It has been in the plans for 7-8-9 years, developing, evolving, falling apart, coming back into shape. Even its purpose has had a million iterations, and it will like change again, and once more. But first and foremost, we have created more living space, and that is a good thing, for the 7 of us, for whatever the future may hold. We have built options!
Here we have the kitchen, and the cabinets that Mike built. After the foundation, framing, and roof were complete, he came to do everything else, which is a lot! This is a two room house, with a bathroom and a powder room, a utility hall, a covered front porch, and wood floors, and arched niches. I love arched niches. This last picture is from Maria, who sweetly endured my angst and waffling through paint chips. She took each of my paint choices and digitally painted them on her iPad. It was, essentially, a Blue vs Green debate for the kitchen cabinets. And, can you tell? Maria and I were in Sweden last summer! Folkpainted furniture is unequivocally my everything.
Green is our winner! Incidentally, the house is green, too, with brown trim and some stone siding that goes about half-way a quarter-way up the front. Essentially, my design goals have been to create a place that might be found in a California State Park. A cabin in the woods, near the ocean, or a creek. Something with rustic hints, and homegrown charms. Blues, greens, browns, stone and tile and wood, and arched niches.
Here is just about where we are today. Mike went home for winter, and when he returns, we have some things to finish, including doors, trim, baseboards. Today I am meeting with two contractors, who will give me estimates on kitchen counters. That job was supposedly going to be taken care of, but I am being ghosted, and have had to start all over. And the doors? The doors is a whole other story! Don't ask me to say anything nice about Home Depot.
Here is something very nice! This is how things looked in July, last summer. That was just about a year into the start of this... the physical labor, messy start. It's been a journey!

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

I Wonder...

Walks into space, tentatively. Looks around. Hello?
I am taxing my brain, trying to remember all of the steps and numbers, the order of operations, just to make anything appear on the page. Besides figuring all of that out, there is the question of writing, and what to write. It's been so long since I post Too long. I feel anxious and uncomfortable, like hives are coming on, thinking of all the things left unsaid, all of the moments I didn't share, record, make note of. I know, better than ever, how much I depend on the archives here, and it makes me sad that I have not kept up. Maybe I can do it. Maybe I can diligently, sparingly, catch-up. Then again, maybe I will just keep moving forward. I am unsure.
One thing I do know... time has warped since 2020, maybe even since the last days of 2016, and everything since has become a muddled tangle of events and passages, of happenings that I never could have predicted. It seems a universal experience that we have lost perspective and can hardly distinguish the last 6 months from the last four years. Maybe that is part of what makes me miss Chickenblog. I need an anchor a signpost, something apart from social media algorithms and the fast-paced blurr of life, where I can reflect and process, and... And breath.
We are all here, in our BirdHouse. The youngfolk, and our cats, the goats, the chickens, the laundry. We are well, in the ways that matter. We have had good days, and that matters, too. Sometimes, so little changes, I forget that a lot has changed. A lot has happened since November 13, 2022.