Chicken Blog by Natalie

Pink Martini ~ Je Dis Oui :: Three Hundred Thirty Seven - Sat, 12/03/2016 - 23:00
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.

Los Gatos :: Three Hundred Thirty Six - Fri, 12/02/2016 - 10:03
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.

Some Art :: Three Hundred Thirty Five - Thu, 12/01/2016 - 18:00
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 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 - Thu, 12/01/2016 - 11:37
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.

Wrong Camera :: Three Hundred Thirty Four - Wed, 11/30/2016 - 20:00
When the sky, the clouds, the slimmest crescent moon, a planet, and faint stars halt your steps, the list of what's next, and you stand in the parking lot, riveted, blessed, and think, This is the wrong camera, but you take the picture anyway, because you want to remember that natural beauty can lift our thoughts, sooth our wounds, and remind us to breath.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Take Joy :: Three Hundred Thirty Three - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 21:28
A birthday and a gala! We had more to celebrate today, since Maria turned twelve and her art was featured in the PTAS' Reflections Gala, for student artists. For the theme of This is My Story, Maria had submitted an ink, pencil, and water color self-portrait, and tonight she received a certificate and ribbon. It was a treat to see her art hanging in the gallery, along with other elementary and middle school art. Submissions included paintings, sculptures, photography, writing, even video submissions of dance and other performing arts. This was Maria's first time participating, and she was really delighted to have her work distinguished this way.

She illustrated her interests and likes as balloons that she's collecting and carrying along her life's path. We look forward, too. Maria, and her joy's, are such a pleasure to observe, to be around.

Some of Maria's story includes coding, chickens, cats, reading and writing, gardening, and art. Of course, I see a lot more, like exuberance, diligence, kindness, curiosity, humor, cooking, dancing, science, math, teaching, playing, tinkering, talking, reflecting, traveling. It's a wonderful story~

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Friendship~Joy~Get Well :: Three Hundred Thirty Two - Mon, 11/28/2016 - 16:13
On my way back from checking goats and chickens, I decided to visit the roses growing on the picket fence. They're pretty as a picture, even after the battering they took with this recent storm. Yellow roses, it's said, send the messages of friendship, joy, and get well.

So, these roses are for my friends, near and far, with my heartfelt wish that we can get together, soon, to laugh, and play, and make more memories. And for joy, which I find in this season, in our weather, in anticipation of good things to come. And as a special wish for the comfort and peace of my Grandmother Eunice. She is as sunny, beautiful, cheering, and bright as the best roses, and I want her to feel all the warmth, beauty and good will that she has always shone on all of us.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Party Animals :: Three Hundred Thirty One - Sun, 11/27/2016 - 12:29
Oh, yeah. We party. We party like animals. We color on the table, drink from fancy glasses, have two flavors of ice cream, the assorted cupcake pack, and throw snow balls in the house. It was a wild scene, and this morning, I smiled, thankfully, contentedly, as I surveyed the damages. Before tackling the dishes, I sat with my creamy, sweetened decaffeinated coffee, and made plans for our next party. We're thinking of burning something, and having soups, actually. I can't wait.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Birthday Wishes :: Three Hundred Thirty - Sat, 11/26/2016 - 21:00
We all wished to celebrate Maria's twelfth birthday, but we were getting a little behind on the early planning. So, we called on some friends, picked up cupcakes, ordered take-out, covered the dining table with butcher paper, and pulled off a grand fête! Every bit of it was good, and Maria is still beaming about having a circle of friends to play with, her fluffy socks, and other sweet gifts. I think the only thing that might have made it perfect for her would be if there was some leftover house special chicken to re-heat for breakfast.

This impromptu and simple party, and how thrilled Maria was for all of it... it's her. It's a sweet reflection of how easy, joyful, and gratifying our lives are with Maria. She has such a kind, intelligent and generous way about her. Her actions match her thoughts, her heart matches her attitude, and she sincerely, seemingly effortlessly, makes life better. So, even when a birthday party is thrown together, at the last minute, and it's pouring rain outside, she finds only silver linings, and wants for nothing more than friends to play with. It's such a delight to celebrate Maria, to sing for her, and wish, too, for her birthday wishes to come true.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Chango's Chair and Heritage :: Three Hundred Twenty Nine - Fri, 11/25/2016 - 08:49
We are thankful for Chango, our grandpa cat. He'll be seventeen years old in the new year... well, spring of the new year. We love our Chango. El Cubano. And recently we researched what is very likely his Scottish name. He is Changus, from a little known line, the MacChangos. Surprisingly, not much is recorded on this history, but what we did discover is quite noteworthy, distinguished. Yes, and so in honor of his illustrious heritage, I spruced up his chair. His chair is the one I put next to my bed, so I could be the kind of woman who sits at her bedside, sipping tea, reading novels, and writing thank you notes to friends and dignitaries. Well, if you haven't received a thank you note from me, it is only because Changus MacChango never leaves my chair. It is his chair, and now, with the new cover, he seems ever more confirmed to living in it. From his vantage point he can watch the window, anticipate company, access his nightstand, and water, cross the bed, trice nightly, and sleep contentedly, knowing he is safe, loved, and distinguished.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Giving Thanks :: Three Hundred Twenty Eight - Thu, 11/24/2016 - 13:30
Usually it's only a cat or two that jumps in when I am trying to make the bed. Today I got lucky... two cats and three of my children showed up. We made cat hammocks with sheets, which Cairo and Foo lovelovelove. Then it was all laughter and stories, plans and more laughter. There are many great plans and traditions that can go into Thanksgiving, or any holiday, but the very best part is sharing 'chores,' and making plans, laughing and playing, together with loved ones. It could hardly get any better.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

What Do We Celebrate :: Three Hundred Twenty Seven - Wed, 11/23/2016 - 10:37
Every year I look forward to Thanksgiving. It's my favorite holiday... and no, not because of the Pilgrims and Wampanoag, not because of infantilized versions of the first harvest and feast at Plimouth Plantation. I love Thanksgiving for the simple pleasure of sharing our blessings, our works, and best intentions, for the communion, reflection, gratitude. It's reassuring to revisit traditions, connect with family, open our doors to new friends, offer our services to community, to strangers. The familiar dishes we prepare, the care we put into a gathering centered around thanks restores my spirit, guides my intentions, inspires my thoughts and actions. And honestly, sadly, this is the first year I feel almost too devastated by events in the world, by words and character, by symbols, threats, attacks, acrimony, and dishonor, to feel the pleasure, the healing, of Thanksgiving.

With every bit of sorrow, fear, grief, anguish, and injustice I read about, I feel more and more detached from celebration, from happiness. The reports from Standing Rock, where The Standing Rock Sioux and supporters are being abused for fervently insisting that their land and water be protected... the news from these events is wrenching, and the actions of the United States government are deplorable. This is not one hundred years ago, two hundred years ago. This break of treaty, this militant abuse of our citizens is unconscionable, and it is happening today, under our watch. I would like to be a proud American, but this disgrace speaks to a long history of maltreatment and dishonor against indigenous people, against my people. My thanks, my honor, my respect, my celebration is for the Sioux Nation, for their supporters, for peaceful protest, for the bravery of all who sacrifice to preserve and protect natural resources, land and water. Their land and water. Our land and water. My thanks, is for the courageous and good men and women who stand against tyranny, and for justice.

And Also...

I've just come back to add a few things, in hopes that it will be cathartic.

My heart is with my Grandmother, and I am praying for her comfort, for healing, for her peace of mind, for literally just everything to be good, and safe, and beautiful, because she deserves nothing less.

Rest in peace, Curry, you golden, darling pupper. Straight to heavenly fields and cool waters, to our pet families who have gone before you.

The election fallout is still seeping it's dark poison into my psyche, and I will not wait and see. Every troll, fascist, racist, Nazi, hater, fear-monger, and greedy s.o.b. crawling out from under rocks: See the light! Shudder in the reflection of the love, peace, compassion, humility, humanity, kindness, sympathy, empathy, and resilience of the forces that deny your will, your ignorance, your hate. I don't have time, and I won't make space, for your shit.

I am doing laundry, cooking, repairing the plumbing, and will be facing big OC traffic. I am not happy, but I am able, and riled up, and today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, I will move forward. I am cursing and shaking my fist at tragedy and injustice, against war, genocide, torture, loss, heartache, sad times, setbacks, bullies, hangnails, atrial fibrillation, flat tires, and even death and taxes. Thank God, I can get riled up and rally.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Twinkle Light Season :: Three Hundred Twenty Six - Mon, 11/21/2016 - 16:06
Our cabinet of curiosities has strings of lights now... I added them, and the porcupine quill we brought home from Nesting, the shop upstairs, on Main Street, Concord, Massachusetts. The shop that is as cozy as a nest, but full enough to get lost in. Maria exclaimed when she came home, and saw the lights. Don't you love the joyful effect a little light can add? More light! More joy. It's best shared.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Dear Goats :: Three Hundred Twenty Five - Sun, 11/20/2016 - 15:51
Oh My Goats. These two. It's not their best portrait, but it's true to form. It's hard to get them to stand still. They have such earnest faces, and hopeful expressions. Just the kind of countenance that compels me to put a box of licorice in the grocery cart. Treats for our sweets. They are such dear little goaters.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Bluebird of Happiness :: Three Hundred Twenty Four - Sat, 11/19/2016 - 10:14
Having his trust... it never gets old. I still feel special when he lands, I still feel like an orchestra could be playing a chipper melody, with a tune that makes me want to hum along. We love our Friend, the scrub jay, the bluebird of happiness.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Campus Tour :: Three Hundred Twenty Three - Fri, 11/18/2016 - 15:45
Ruth joined me for a visit to Max's school. There are barely three weeks left of his first quarter at Irvine. It's hard to believe. After breakfast in the commons, we enjoyed walking around the campus. I think Max's grandmother enjoyed her visit. It is beautiful there, and this was a particularly nice day. Next time, I hope we can drive home along the coast. There are a lot of great sights and tempting stops between school and home, but mostly Max is happiest to get home.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Works in Progress :: Three Hundred Twenty Two - Thu, 11/17/2016 - 21:23
Embroidered, and painted, but not yet finished. I never did have a plan for them. Maybe for pennants, or what? I don't know. But I would very much like to make something of them now. In frames? Maybe squared up with pretty fabric. Certainly I will press them. They are works in progress.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

While I Was Sleeping :: Three Hundred Twenty One - Wed, 11/16/2016 - 10:00
Something I found on my phone this morning, thanks to Maria. At least it's some evidence that I actually do sleep, sometimes. Quite soundly, in fact.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Nightstand :: Three Hundred Twenty - Tue, 11/15/2016 - 21:00
a small bedside table, typically for cats to cross the bed, drink the water, knock things over, and loom over unsuspecting humans.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

There Came a Tapping :: Three Hundred Nineteen - Mon, 11/14/2016 - 11:49
Maria has an assignment for school... something about creating a storyboard of a poem. She's using The Raven, and I can't wait to see the rest of the panels.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.