Chicken Blog by Natalie

Story Time :: Two Hundred Eleven - Fri, 07/29/2016 - 05:30
The third book in the series, a story so compelling even Mister Foo is riveted.

Summer's heat has moved in.

We clamped tulle to the front door, now a breeze of relief makes the entry the most comfortable spot in the house.

While listening to the story, Maria's loose tooth came out, her third this summer.

Max took a math placement test, now he's registered for all of his classes.

We were at the beach, again, Tuesday night.

Our dinner plates have been slowly ridding themselves... breaks, chips, etc. We've had them since 1999, and recently I resolved to find their replacements. Usually these things can take me a while. Like a year, or four. But Maria and I fell in gaga (a silly and happy state of affection for pretty things) with some that have sprays of blue flowers and lime green vines and tendrils. The whole plate acquiring process became a consumer saga, complete with multiple store and location visits, some creative mixing and matching, and eventual absolute gaga-ness. As happens, this also inspired cabinet dusting, dish purging, reorganizing, and glancing at other parts of the kitchen with critical eyes. Never underestimate the lure and temptations of embracing new colors to prompt further improvements, and updates.

Alex and Maria were watching cob-oven making tutorials, then they played in the side yard, experimenting with our soil and clay.

If we don't make a cob-oven, we will more than likely build a forge. Geoff and Alex's blacksmithing classes have confirmed their gaga-ness for striking hot metal.

This post might not be so long, nor so random, expect that there is a fan in the office, and I am loathe to get up, fold laundry, sort mail.

Also, today is Thursday, and I am writing all of this for tomorrow. If any bloggers have read this far, they will appreciate how nice it is to be able to compose posts for later publication.

I found our fig tree, Fiona, full of ripe fruit. Maria and I ate quite few.

Happy Friday, friends. I hope you have a comfortable spot, where you are reading or enjoying fresh fruit, where you have welcome company, inspired thoughts, and something to feel gaga for.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

This Morning :: Two Hundred Ten - Thu, 07/28/2016 - 09:05
A good morning.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Hello Kitty :: Two Hundred Nine - Wed, 07/27/2016 - 08:41
Once upon a time... in a cozy nest of pink, there slept a kitty Boo.

The End
With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Le Voyage a la Supermarché :: Two Hundred Eight - Tue, 07/26/2016 - 05:30
Ça va? Maria and I slipped away for a special breakfast... and found ourselves enjoying some local French culture. Of course, the net effect is that I want to say everything in French, now. By the way... we highly recommend the tarte aux framboises!

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Parlez-vous le français?
Baies rouge avec de la créme.

Bien chien, dans le café.

Un café crème, s'il vous plaît.

Jolie tartes et des bonbons.

Eau avec du citron. Rafraîchissant!

Bonne journée, mes amies~

{Je vous remercie, Google Translate}

I Would Like To Print and Frame This Thread - Mon, 07/25/2016 - 13:05
Beautiful, the Carol King Musical is coming to town, and I got this impulse to see if maybe some friends could join me to see it. If I could sell enough eggs, I would buy tickets for all of my friends, fly my mom down. But even if we can't get to the show, I will always treasure this interaction with my friend, Carol. The best of social media... when you put something out there, and someone reaches out, and connects with you.

Natalie Van Hola... I've been daydreaming about seeing "Beautiful... the Carol King Musical."
Have you? Should we go together...
Sunday, August 7? Not sure if there are (affordable) tickets left, but should we look?

Carol $71

Natalie Van I should sell chicken eggs!

Natalie Van Okay... if we can't pull this off,
we should run all the fans in the house and play her albums on full volume...
dance party!

Carol I love you.

Natalie Van I love you, too. Thank you, friend.

Carol Carole King is one of my favorites too! Michael ran into her at UCSC. I mean he actually ran into her.

Natalie Van There's a story there!

Natalie Van For sale: Fresh Organic Free Range Chicken Eggs! Only 71$/dozen... A steal!

Natalie Van I'd like to sell two dozen... my friend, Carol and I have some place to go.

Birthday Badminton Clinic :: Two Hundred Seven - Mon, 07/25/2016 - 08:56
Instructors Geoff, Aunt Holly, and Tutu Ruth with Maria... Uncle Rich and Izzy gave pointers, too. This was just the sort of sports clinic we've been meaning to share with Maria. She has enough interest and enthusiasm for playing things like four-square, kick-ball, and badminton, but needs to develop her skills, and with that, her confidence.

Besides improving Maria's game, we were at Holly and Rich's to celebrate Ruth's birthday. Happy Birthday, Ruth! It was a beautiful day, and we had all afternoon and into the evening to enjoy Apples to Apples, some video games, catching up over our visits to Wisconsin, even making plans for next weekend.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Summer warm, summer casual, and all quite enjoyable.

To The Beach :: Two Hundred Six - Sun, 07/24/2016 - 10:11
Bambi and Alex invited us to meet them at the beach. They walked, then Geoff, Max, Maria and I caught up with them. Was anyone else visiting a So Cal beach yesterday? It was weird... the ocean was choppy, there was a lot of wind, and the riptide was wild. We watched waves coming in and moving out. Backwards waves! Waves perpendicular to the coast. As crazy as it was, we had a blast getting tossed around in the surf. The water action made the ocean floor as irregular as the waves. It was deeper near the shore than further out, and overall the whole beach was very shallow. While we bobbed and paddled, Max described the physics and properties of the wave actions. Then we took turns pulling each other on boogie boards.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

All the rest of our beach visits this summer have been at dusk, or even after sunset, which has it's own flavor and advantages, but this time was great for spending hours in the water. Geoff and Maria went on a Pokémon search... they usually have a game or puzzle they enjoy working on together. We also packed some of our apples, and the last of the Hook's Dill Jack cheese.

The beaches are busy during this first heatwave of summer, but we found a sweet spot.

A double boogie train! With the weird tidal action, it was usually easier to move parallel with the shore. It didn't seem to be a good day for surfing, or traditional boogie boarding. But it was perfect for playing and cooling off!

The cheese. We carried it from Mineral Point, up to the NorthWoods, into Chicago, and at the airport it gave me special trouble with the TSA, but it was worth it. Thank you, Paul, for the recommendation. We are so glad we could extend our happy memories of being in Wisconsin!

And... one more bit of wild fun before the day is through. Standing in line for Handel's Ice Cream may seem crazy, (I have never seen longer lines for ice cream) but trust us... totes worth the trip!

Good day.

Summer Delights :: Two Hundred Five - Sat, 07/23/2016 - 09:05
Summer fruits, salads, smoothies... we're eating cool, but when it comes to mangos, sometimes I gotta spice things up a touch!

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

When I search for an image that I've edited, then exported, I sometimes find older pictures with similar titles... it's fun to see when I've repeated myself, been in a similar mood.

May 2008...

Cornered :: Two Hundred Four - Fri, 07/22/2016 - 09:02
Cairo has entered his active kitten phase... the rambunctious, frisky, pouncing, bounding phase with sneak attacks, and ridiculous maneuvers that demonstrate that he is also still goofy, awkward, cute, and sometimes too much! When he needs disciplining we've taken to calling Mister Washburn Foo, or Papa Foo. Papa Foo surveys the situation, and with a look in his keen eye you can tell he means to get a handle on things. He moves right in, pins his Boop, and bathes him. Cairo loves the chance to wrestle and battle, but it doesn't take long for him to realize he's cornered, and he submits to another bathing from Papa Washburn Foo.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

The Corner At The Entry :: Two Hundred Three - Thu, 07/21/2016 - 08:54
Home sweet home, right from the entry. This corner changes with each season, with each new sprout that emerges in the big planter, with every this or that left on the table, or hanging from a nail. When I come home I see familiar things, like bird houses, and beach stones, seashells, and the onion tops that grew again, and I feel a sigh of bliss, because this is our Bird House, and those are our onions, our treasures and bric-a-brac. It's almost seven years since the Big Blue House became our own Bird House. Seven years settling in, making a home, trusting, learning, enjoying. I wish everyone, who desires it, could have their own corner to call home.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Corners of Our World :: Two Hundred Two - Wed, 07/20/2016 - 13:07
These morning glories... gorgeous. I'm gazing at this image and reflecting on everything it means to me... the forms and colors, the fragrances, and variety of flowers are always amazing, always a pleasure, that I welcome a chance to feel restored by even the smallest sampling of nature, that gardens are a gift that go beyond boundaries and our differences. I am recalling the great masses of morning glories that grew in a curtain around the place where Geoff and I were married. I am feeling some relief from the stress of politics, and car troubles, worries, and headaches, because the corners of our world have picket fences and flowers, beach walks, and chickens, challenges and solutions. Setbacks, and comforts.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

And just to sustain the feeling of relief, to restore some levels of calm and hope, here are a few more corners of our world.

This was our first summer trip to the beach. We packed a picnic, came with a shade shelter, and towels. We built a fire, and hung out for hours. It was a good day, and a good reminder that we have this tremendous resource practically at our front door. I met a woman from Phoenix, visiting with her family, and she was so thrilled to be at the beach, so delighted to hear some of my impressions and suggestions for future visits, and she declared, "You must be here... everyday?" But, no. No, we don't go to the beach nearly that often, and I did feel a blush of embarrassment admitting that. I'm tempted to list all of the "important" reasons and excuses for why we don't go to the beach everyday, but that's not helpful, or necessary. Instead, I have been simply trying to go more often... however late the hour, or unprepared I feel, even if we cannot stay long, or I feel like there's one more thing I should do instead, and maybe especially, even if I feel like it'd be easier to just stay home... I have been making the trip to the beach.

Our corners of the world include chickens, goats, cats, and robots. We love our Bird House, the home we've made for our paints, and projects, our pie pans, books, and quilts. And even though I love to travel, relish a good road trip, home is where I want to be, to return to, to hideout. Yeah... I think I have become a bit more reclusive. Is it the outside world that sends me deeper into our retreat, or the voice inside, acknowledging that I am happy in a smaller, familiar corner?

Last week Alex suggested we go for a walk after dinner. And so I relented, and chose to head out, rather than hideout. It was a welcome escape from bad news, and anxious feelings about other, bigger plans in the works.

I cannot decide if it's a spiritual, new-age philosophy, or something scientifically proven, and factual... doesn't matter: The beach, with waves hitting the shore, spray in the air, the salt, all of those negative ions and their positive vibes, make a body feel better. Movement is good, company is good, the rhythm and sensory pleasures of the beach are all good. And after our time in Wisconsin, thanks to Laura and Gary, the hike at the waterfalls, the day on the lake, I think this natural joy can happen anywhere... anywhere we are in motion, away from routine, from the ties of our usual comforts, in a place where we find ourselves as part of the world, and not driving by it, using it, consuming it, but actually engaged, joining in the breath and rhythm of the wind, or water, the movement of birds, the trajectory of the sun, the rising of the moon, it's healing, uplifting, inspiring, good.

Of course, I am not always readily available in body and mind to acknowledge this brilliant insight, and so I stew in my worries, resist the tide, and forget to go out, to hold hens, smell flowers, walk barefoot across sand, wade along the lakeshore, water my fuchsias, book that camping trip! Alas! How much I miss. And... Hurrah! Because it's not too late to try again.

And the corners of our world increase, and move out, forward. And, please, however prepared I could be, or might have been, or ought to be... some changes are going to take more time, more faith, more daring, more beach walks, more deep breaths than others. It is a paradox of sorts, to feel as confident and awe-inspired by Max, by where Max has come from, by how much he has achieved, and how well he has prepared, and yet to feel myself so surprised, so emotionally unprepared to face this next part of the journey, his, mine, ours. I saw it coming, I did not see it coming. Life, you are tricky, like that.

Then we have this. Neo Cairo Nepenthes, our boop. Our fur baby. A corner of the world so distracting, and silly, so alive and amusing, that we cannot help but laugh out loud at the sight of him.

I am always in a mental battle with myself over how I would like to be, and how I am. I would like to be a domestic goddess, with fresh linens on every bed, and a dinner plan for every evening. I imagine a clear desk, clean car, groomed goats, flossed teeth, toned calves, and spotless shower walls, but nope. Right now, there is a very pretty bouquet on our mostly clean table cloth. The pantry is as immaculate as I can ever hope, and William did as much for the cabinet where we keep spices... I call these incidences miracles! I very recently cleaned and organized the critical components of the master bath, and my car is tidy, and finally getting some recall issues attended to. This may be as good as it gets.

Sure, the airbags, shift lever, and "SRS" unit are getting replaced, but there's also the matter of my dying ignition tumblers, the suspension and shocks, the disintegrating steering wheel. It seems my new car, my darling Jet Puff, somehow, got old. And I try not to panic, but nothing stays the same, fresh, new, tidy, organized. Much to my dismay, I find that housework bores the heck out of me, so that doesn't help. And the news is full of bad headlines, no matter what your politics are!

Flowers! Quick! Beach walks, too, even if it's late in the day, and we forget to bring towels. More time in nature, more laughter, cat posts, slow, deep breaths. And stepping back, like this, blogging, looking at these pictures, I am reminded that life may be tricky, but it's going to be okay. And sometimes, quite often actually, our lives are much better than okay. We have a very pretty bouquet of flowers on a mostly clean table cloth... and that's quite a lot to be thankful for, right there.

More walks, even if it's because my car is in the shop, and they're 'not sure what's wrong with your starter.' I gotta look up, and look out, and move forward.

Breath in. Breath out.

A Figurative Corner :: Two Hundred One - Tue, 07/19/2016 - 10:09
While not technically in a corner, sleepy Neo Cairo has made himself a comfy little corner in the world... which happens to be in Geoff's geek corner of the living room. We are trying to keep track of all the little corners that kitty finds for himself, so we don't lose sight of the tiny guy.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Kitchen Corner :: Two Hundred - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 10:04
This week, for the Picture a Day Project, I've decided to add a theme. The theme? Corners. I didn't come to it by any great process. It was simply that this morning I realized that of the four pictures I took, half of them were of the corner of a room. Then, while working on this post, I enjoyed thinking of the comforting idea of in someone's corner. Lately, I have been enjoying the support of friends who have been giving support and encouragement, who have been in my corner. There's also the backed into a corner idiom... not so pleasant, but it happens. If anyone wants to share their pictures, literally or figuratively, please show us your corners. And if you feel backed into a corner, maybe we can show you there's someone in your corner, ready to give encouragement.

This corner is so full of things and feelings I love, with stories to tell, I don't know where to begin! A list? Top to bottom? Left to right? Metaphorically? Anecdotally?

On the wall, framed, is a family recipe for oatmeal cookies. The oatmeal cookies. The ones I remember since I was a girl, that my mother made when I was five and we lived in Ramona, where there was a field of sheep across the street, and I'd follow my cousins to the creek to catch tadpoles, frogs, fish, and beetles. In Ramona, two blocks from Main Street, my mother's shop, the kindergarten on the other side of Main Street, my father's red truck in the dirt driveway. The same cookie recipe I followed when I won a blue ribbon in the sixth grade baking contest, that I would happily bake on demand for my brother Bill. It's perfectly worn, stained and tattered, a treasure.

Rowe Pottery, and Rockdale Union Stoneware, from twenty-nine years of visiting Wisconsin. I still remember my first visit, when Geoff proposed, and I met his family, when I fell even more in love with him, and with thoughts of building our lives together. The salt-glazed stoneware is beautiful, and practical, and I remember thinking, Someday I hope we have a nice collection, that there will be old and familiar pieces in our kitchen, that have served us, and made me happy with their pretty motifs, and forms. It was more about associating them with making traditions, memories, connections, than simply having a lot of pretty dishes. And now, all these years later, I enjoy the gratitude, the pleasure that I am reminded of because we have visited Wisconsin, because we have baked pies, and made dinners, and washed dishes, and fed families, and been together, happily. It's lovely to turn toward this corner and be so sweetly reminded of dreams that have come true. And while we visited Laura and Gary on our recent visit to Wisconsin, I saw how they displayed their pie pans, and admired it. I told Laura, how Alex and I had just been discussing that our own pie pans sat stacked on a shelf, where we couldn't appreciate the paintings on them. They are always either covered in good food, or put away. Back home, simply by fortune and chance, William brought out two plate displays, with birds (no surprise,) that had been long ago stashed away, out of sight! Now, like Laura and Gary, we can enjoy our pie pans, even when there is no pie!

The print of the boy reading in the kitchen has always felt like a familiar reminder of our family, of madres en cocinas of tortillas, of books, homeschooling, comforts and traditions across generations. It's a print my mother brought me from her travels. On top of the Hoosier cabinet is a painting done by my great-tía Thalia, and she painted the watermelon, too. She was my grandmother Eunice's sister-in-law, and she began painting much later in life. Her work brings back happy memories, spiced with scents, sights, and sounds of the painted walls of her old home in Mexico City, the African violets, her dolls, the philodendron that I recall as growing from the first floor, vining around the room, reaching the second floor by way of the stairwell. I think of open stall markets, ancient ruins, and late nights with cups of coffee, pan dulce. Alex's painting, a watercolor rabbit is there, too, and Maria's jar of lucky stars. Organically, naturally, a narrative is spoken here... something to do with art, with traditions, with generations connected by making, cooking, painting, creating. In my corner I have family, resources, memories, a history, and hopes for the future. No wonder I like seeing this space in our home.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Egg :: One Hundred Ninety Nine - Sun, 07/17/2016 - 22:33
A beautiful egg. And more like it... time to make quiches, and salad, time to bake, scramble, and pickle? What do you do with extra eggs? Time to share.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Kitty-Pantry-Zot-Home :: One Hundred Ninety Five Six Seven Eight - Sat, 07/16/2016 - 20:38
A Picture a Day? Not today! Today I am breaking form and posting four moments from this very busy 24 hours...

Neo Cairo Nepenthes had his first check-up. He weighs three whole pounds! He is playful, affectionate, and healthy, and we aim to keep him that way! We love our veterinarian. We love how nicely our thee kitties are getting along.

We found our pantry! Seriously. Sometimes even an organized space falls victim to entropy and neglect, but thanks to a big push between William, Maria and me, we have a restored, and picture pretty pantry, again. What a relief! What a massive effort!

And while we were taking care of kitties, and deep cleaning the kitchen, Max was away for orientation at his new school. First overnight stay in dorm rooms, and lots of familiarizing himself with what's ahead. He even registered for classes. Humanities, physics, Calculus III, more physics? Good news: He likes his schedule. He likes the bedding Maria and I found him, and he'll appreciate the fan we got him, too. The better news: Geoff and I got to join him the next day, and together we could appreciate what's going to work, what he can figure out in time, and what will be alright, eventually. (There won't be quite that much cheering and pep, when classes get rolling, don't worry, mi'jo.)

All in all, I think we are happy to be a Zot family!

(US) The characteristic sound made by an anteater's tongue or by lightning.
Usage notes[edit]
Associated with the UC Irvine Anteaters.

Back home again, and we find all the love and support of Maria, William, Alex, and Bambi, who wanted to welcome home their brother with a theme dinner, and everything set up for a night of game playing. That's a peek at the retro-style dinner they planned: Burgers, fries, fancy-forthy pineapple and pomegranate drinks! And a lemon meringue for dessert. Everything was chosen to be favorites and enjoyable for Max, after his new venture.

Can you see why I couldn't pick just one picture? And now... I am going to put up my feet, enjoy the game playing, and breath deep, thankful sighs, because I love all I see, in my heart, and in these pictures.

(Stacy, Diana... my midnight helpline: Thank you. Everyone deserves a support group as understanding, funny, and helpful as ours. I love you, Mamas.)

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Evening Walk :: One Hundred Ninety Four - Fri, 07/15/2016 - 05:30
Back to the beach... for a walk, for the air, and waves. To build another castle, and sing songs.

It goes too fast... this family time, when we are all together. It's not over, I know. But changes are here, new schedules and plans, growing, moving forward in different directions. would I be better prepared, more readily accepting, if I weren't so very happy with how our life has been, what we have? I was sadly reminded, too, in yesterday's news, that there are more ways to face change than growing up, new schools... there is tragic loss, and senseless violence. All of which made me feel both thankful for what we have, and like holding tighter, anxious. So, back to the beach, where we can make our time count in nature, with friends, laughing, and feeling the pleasure of our family life, now.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Two Memes & A Thundering Nerd :: One Hundred Ninety Three - Thu, 07/14/2016 - 10:40
"Stop! Don't move." The gravity and urgency in Geoff's voice was too compelling to disregard. I stopped in my tracks, but had to ask him to clarify, "Did you just say 'danger noodle?' He continued in the same agitated, concerned tone, "Don't move... you are in danger."

Seriously? In the market parking lot? With a cart of cereal and milk? On this comfortable summer evening, in our comfortable suburban town, I am in "danger?" And I hear him behind me fumbling and tooling with something... and then it dawns on me: He's doing it. Geoff is a trainer, a Thundering Nerd Gamer, happily engrossed in his element: Play!

I had to stand still, because there was a Ekans on my @ss. Literally. Or not really, but literally virtually. Here... I'll post the picture, so you can judge for yourselves! And for the record, I would like to add that, Geoff takes my picture about twice a year, more or less. This most unflattering image has been lovingly archived, a precious memory for him to keep.

"Danger Noodle," from the meme of alternate animal names. (I love pant-less thunder goose, and formal chicken,) and of course, the Pokémon Go meme. We're all thundering nerds for something, so I won't get caught up with the haters. Some people need their coffee, then wine, others are all about baseball stats, or Fantasy Football. Wether you are hooked on yarn, or running, crushing candies, or buying shoes... you know you find a happy space, a healthy release when you can play your thing. Get out there, play nice, stay safe, and let your own thundering nerd flag fly!

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Water and Light :: One Hundred Ninety Two - Wed, 07/13/2016 - 09:03
Water, light, sand, and friends... the beach has everything you need for an agreeable afternoon. For extra enjoyment we brought limeade, crackers, cheese, a ginormous fruit salad, and fire wood.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Three Hundred & Thirty Posts About Gatos - Tue, 07/12/2016 - 10:31
According to the archives of CB, I've posted three hundred and twenty-nine times about cats... about Nena, Bongo, Chango, and Diego, about Anna Banana's Patrick El Gato, Benjamin Franklin ThunderCat, and Ferris, Foo, and Neo Cairo Nepenthes. And this post brings the count to 330 posts about kitties, cats, gatos, misifus, muffins of love.



Because they are adorable.

Because they remind us to relax, to trust, to let go.

Because just when we think we know someone, they can show us a whole new point of view, a different side.

Because their antics can be hilarious, and inspire exuberance and wild abandon.

Because whiskers, paws, pink noses, and ruffled manes.

One more post about gatitos, because son tan ensimosos, preciosos, cariñosos.

Even when they grow up and become big gatos, they will make any spot their own, and still be endearing doing it. And precious, and charming, and affectionate, and selfish, and greedy, and rude, and absurd.

Because naps.

Because if you have to stay in bed they will find you, comfort you, distract you, snuggle and heal you.

Because, according to Gretchen, fanny-packs will never go out of fashion!

We have three kitties, and they are dear and weird, messy and tidy, peculiar, predictable, mischievous, smelly, then sweet, wicked, then tender. They make us laugh, give us joy, and we love them.

Reading Aloud :: One Hundred Ninety One - Tue, 07/12/2016 - 09:39
They're on the second book in the series, Operation Red Jericho. While Alex is reading these aloud, Maria has another series she is immersed in... Abarat, by Clive Barker. Chango enjoys a good book, too. We all do.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.