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Dear October, Please Slow Down

Chickenblog.com - Tue, 10/17/2017 - 11:41
October 10... A place where Geoff makes things.
As far as I can tell, there is nothing wrong with the month of October, except that it never lasts long enough. I wish it were October beginning in September, right up until we start bringing home cream and potatoes for Thanksgiving, then it can be November, which should also be a longer month, but I am getting ahead of myself, which is just the concern I am addressing... everything is going too fast!

As dedicated as I have been to savoring every bit of this month, I am aghast to realize that we are well past the half-way mark. And, as usual, it's hotter than July. I will not complain about the weather though, because we are at least being spared wildfires. It has been too long a hot, dry, tragic fire season. The anxiety and dread of these wildfires is always just within touch, too close at hand, and the news from Montana, Oregon, Orange County, and especially Napa, Santa Rosa, Sonoma... is heartbreaking. "Fire Season," and "Fire Weather..." these are common terms, now, because the climate is changed.

Oh, lost my train of thought, or really it's that my "train" rides a wild, twisting rail, and though I intend to stick to happy news, and reflections, the real world is calling for attention, compassion, so I think, again, of Puerto Rico, of Standing Rock, of people struggling to hold on to hope, justice, respect, to life. I think of family, of my own doubts and insecurities, of the gnawing foreboding that drops my heart, burns my eyes, and crushes the hope and understanding that I'd been tending, guarding.

Everything is not fine. To keep myself moving forward, to try and sustain some hope, to be resolute, persistent, and resilient, I seek beauty, laughter, the sound of hummingbirds in the garden... I gaze admiringly, appreciatively, at the bliss of a cat's nap, pumpkins, a yellow bicycle, a favorite corner of our home, hands at play, minds at work.

Alex sanding the bat shield.

When we lose the eighty-degree days, I will be roasting more pumpkin seeds.

October 11... The chickens, too, will be happy for any pumpkin carving that we do.

Maria's cat's meow.

There have been some cool days, which explains how I've managed to work on two new shawls, and finish four crochet hats, and bake pumpkin bread.

Maria took charge of the Haunted Cookie House I brought home from Trader Joe's. Besides following textbooks and being immersed in online courses, homeschooling has its share of spirited projects and activities.

Cairo looks as though he is inspecting Alex's work, scrutinizing the details, the quality of the design. "He bites the wood," Alex pronounced, half amused.

October 12... Cairo, looking innocent, not biting wood.

Another part of homeschooling... outings, walks, hikes, explores, fresh air, nature.

Diced pickles, and only a smattering of mayo. I had to capture this moment, when Maria is building one of her ideal sandwiches. It makes me happy to think of those tomatoes she collected from the volunteer plants that are still producing outside the kitchen door, to recall that Max and Alex were building their ideal sandwiches, too, that the kitchen was cool, and safe, and we had what we needed. Another day, another lunch... I love when normal is a pleasure.

Boston, New England was a year ago, and I still feel smitten, and romantic about it. I still see the influence of that trip, like this wall... I came home from our trip with a fresh notion about settling into our home, putting up art, being here. Alex advocated for hanging art, moving in, for a long time, and I know he thinks this was long over-due, and is barely half done. And I admit... it's a source of contentment, a smile inside my heart, to see things that make me happy, reminders of things I love, that amuse me.

This year began with a resolve to learn to paint, and I was at it, intently for about three months, and then the muse left me. It was like that, too... like I was being lead to paint and paint, and paint, but then it stopped. And I'd look at all the paintings I'd produced, and feel a bit removed, almost astonished... happy that I had that moment, sorry that it was gone, and unsure how it came to be in the first place.

Then Gina called me. She's a friend from way back, from mutual friends, and the Squaremont neighborhood. We shared cars, dogs, holidays, and laughs. She got me on the phone and lavished praise on those rats in dresses I'd painted. Seriously, like a true friend, you know the kind... you aren't hanging out anymore, but it only takes one phone call, one visit, to put you back in the same kindred groove, familiar, comfortable, loving, just like always.

Gina knows. I laugh, self-consciously, thinking of my crazy process, what it takes to inspire my thoroughly escapist, whimsical, therapeutic depictions of life in a sweet, hopeful dream world. Thank you, Gina. With any luck, I can keep this up, and the world can be just and kind, too.


Wholly gobs, this is a long post.

Undaunted, the Chickenblogger persists.

October 13... Pippi and Pepper, the only two hens not in a frightening molting state!

We aren't seeing too many of these while the hens work on growing new feathers.

Cairo is not molting.

October 14... Maria and I were in Pacific Beach, then Hillcrest, and down to India-West Washington. It was one of those outings that sees a lot done, and a lot gets noticed, appreciated. I like those kinds of outings.

How easily amused am I? Well, I am delighted right now for deciding that these are bumpkins. Bumps on pumpkins... bumpkins. I realize I don't need to explain it, and maybe someone's thought of it before, but this moment of linguistic play is a happy thrill. Don't let me keep you.

Every neighborhood, in every city, should have at least one nursery, especially one like this favorite.

We came across this sweet message, and took the bowl of chalk, left out, as an invitation.

Maria, Max, Corey, and Alex... Saturday night and spider solitaire.

Happy Day.

October 15... Old sketches, and more painting.

I still have not seen or met another polka-spotted cat, like our Foo.

I love how every cat has its own weirdness, quirks, endearments. Foo sleeps with his eyes open. Also... fangs. What a dear.

Hehehe... this post is still really long...

I wish October were really long. I wish everyone were safe, respected, inspired. I may as well add... healthy, strong, supported, loved. I am sending out prayers, best thoughts, kindnesses, love, and courage, wherever it's needed.

Goats. GOATS!

Chickenblog.com - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 09:24

That is all.

Relief From Grief

Chickenblog.com - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 11:36
September 19~
William is the cat's meow.

Yeah... this is as scary as I want my Halloween, or any day. From now on. Forever. It's too much to ask, I realize, but can we get some kind of break, at all?

This post is an escape, a focus on anything in recent days that has turned my head, captured my imagination, lifted my spirits, given me hope. I wish we could all choose to take a break, to close our eyes, or open them wide to take in a beautiful view. I wish there were hopeful moments, safe spaces, promising horizons, for everyone... peace, kindness, compassion, reason, and empathy are in want. I am taking this time to reflect on the good that sustains me, and that will help me move forward.

September 23~

Our friend, Manuel~

This reminds me... I want to plant a bed of wheat. When I should I do this?

Standing out while blending in, at a favorite spot.

Sometimes "word" art is too much, too cliche, or saccharine or preachy, or verbose (like me), or bland, and sometimes I am tempted. I do love words. And metal. I love enamel ware, and galvanized steel, and forged steel.

I have been smitten by these patterns since memory... there was a fabric shop in a brick building on the 101, in North County, on the west side, north of Swamis. I would time travel to that shop.

The girl who never naps came home ready to make an exception. I think we all napped that day.

Her socks: You're beautiful. Don't change.

September 26~
This rat he pulled out of my basket on the dresser, threw it onto the bed, and tussled it into submission. It was epic.

September 27
Seventeen, and a half. He is our old man, and months count.

September 28~
Almost tempted to braid it. That beard.

She knows.

Friend, taking his share.

Did he stay here all day? I think so. I could have done the same.

September 30~
When I put up the post box, with the bird embossed on it, I imagined a little message center between it and my postcard stand. Now we have the note paper and my chicken shelf. Maria and I leave letters in the box.

A mash-up of lessons and interests... Maria is homeschooling, studying art history, and world history, and she gets lessons in ancient armor and weaponry from Alex, then she researches more for her D & D characters. All of it seems to be showing itself in sketches she has on her desk, in her folder.

We could pretend this is a mighty roar, to greet the day. We could...

October 3~
A hat, to pass the time. This was a long day, in suspense, and care. We've heard good news, since, and the hat is finished, too. I've also started another hat, and a shawl. Because, there is a lot to care about, and be in suspense over.

I walked up to entrance of the market, and in the farmstead display I found pigeons. It was as though I was the only one who could see them, stealthily perched in the cornstalks and gourds, surveying the price of pumpkins. Were they nest shopping? I could have watched them for hours.

It's been months since I sketched. I feel awkward and inept, all over again. Rats.

October 4~
Introducing Sweet Pea to the dog biscuits we stock in the Little Free Library. Good dog, Sweet Pea.

We can put anything up there, but for me it will always be the pumpkin shelf. And it will always make me long for Massachusetts, and passing time with Jennifer.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Well That Was Easy

Chickenblog.com - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 10:47

All I did was invite sixty or more close friends to bring their lunches to the park. I did not concern myself with any details except the time and place, and our own food. Then, for fun, I made pumpkin muffins to share. Geoff ran to the market for our favorite bread, Maria collected a few beach chairs, and we put those in the van. I made pesto. Alex suggsted chocolate, and Geoff was very obliging with that idea. I let it stay simple, and I wanted it to be easy... no worries about who could come, or not, no fretting over elaborate menus, entertainment, or whatever was left "undone."

Nature provided a postcard day... the color of the sky, the shade of the trees, the breeze, the red tailed hawk perched at the pond, the ducks, the perfectly spaced boulders for hopping along. And friends arrived, we shared in a plentiful lunch, and laughter.

I don't know when my life got so complicated or off-track that the idea to enjoy a picnic feels "inspired" or rare, but if you are like me, and can't remember the last time you visited a park, met friends there, and just hung out while everyone did their thing... do it! No one has to be the host, or do all the heavy lifting, and even the fact that we set a start and finish time, made it feel fun, without encroaching on the whole day. Ok... so, I am easily impressed, not hard to amuse, I know. But seriously... life needs more "easy," more low-agenda, relaxed get togethers. Drop by, sit back, run around, picnic with us... we'll be doing this again, real soon.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

A Happy Place

Chickenblog.com - Fri, 09/29/2017 - 17:17
It's fair to say, the Vista Viking Festival is one of our happy places. I thought this was our third year attending, but after looking through old posts, I discovered we've been four times, now. I love that it's a small venue, yet packed with worthwhile features, entertainment, and engaging exhibits. We always learn something new, and leave inspired to make more, like a Viking tent.

Our first visit, 2014~

Back, again, in 2015~

Last year~

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

The First Day

Chickenblog.com - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 09:03
The first day of Autumn was a happy whirr!

My trunk... (Again!) The timothy hay is for our goats, but I still haven't unloaded that, and yesterday I admitted to William, "I may leave this in here until December, because it looks so rustic and picturesque when I buy a pumpkin, and smells so sweet." Well, since it's not at all practical to drive all over town with a hay bale, I thought I could content myself with one last gaze at this farm-stand scene.

I have set a lot in store for Autumn, and the first day did not disappoint.

Our Breakfast Club met... here we are, Maria, Natalie, Janece, Paul, and Amira, waiting for Geoff.

Next up: flower crown making, and a picnic. About that picnic... it was so easy, and so gratifying, I am planning another as soon as possible. I texted friends about meeting at the park. Maria and I put our lunches into a basket and added a tablecloth, then off we went. It was simple, and good. We were in the shade of trees, in the company of friends, listening to birds, observing the subtle changes in colors and light. More picnics! More trees, and friends, and happy sighs.

The first crown I made went to Amira, in honor of her thirteenth birthday. Cairo helped. And the second crown went to Belinda, who founded our Moms' Night Out tradition, twenty-one years ago! Goodness, these milestones, and passages... another sigh, and thankfulness that we have these friends, these memories, and cycles, that we can enjoy our times together.

Mums, and moms, sunset, and dinner...

Karen, and Janice

Belinda, and Karen plating B's homemade pasta.

I love this happy whirr...

Vera, Maria, Karen, B, Jola, Yanina, Natalie, and Anne~

Janice and Maria taught me about Airdrop, the Apple app that lets us share pictures, and that's how I got this gem! Janice is holding the camera, and Linda is in Italy... (one of the few acceptable excuses for missing a MNO. *wink*)

Oh. I am *sighing,* again... over the generosity of friends, good food, simple plans, gazing into tree canopies, bringing home pumpkins, little girls growing up, and all the ways we can sustain our joy, make it grow, and share it.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Eagerly Awaited

Chickenblog.com - Fri, 09/22/2017 - 12:10

There can be no denying it, I have been eagerly awaiting the return of fall, since about New Year, probably longer. Not pumpkin flavored everything. The change in weather, mood, activities, the way the light softens, and our attention turns toward home, comforts, traditions. Happy Fall, and Autumn, friends~

Happy walks observing the changes in nature, the way leaves let go, and flowers fade. Happy migration, and anticipation, happy harvests, preserving, gathering, and thanks. Happy mirth and levity. Happy sharing the plenty, warmth, and good will... it only increases when we give it away.

I may be setting too much store in this, my favorite time of the year. I may be making wishes that cannot come true, pining for a time, and places, that can't be reached, yet. This could be hiraeth, something I am prone to, something keenly felt, this year, especially. Nonetheless, happy... where I find it, where I make it, and pleased to share it. However short I may come up, whatever sorrows or setbacks shake me, I have eagerly awaited this season and I want to be in it, mindful, and glad.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

New Roost ~ Old Hens

Chickenblog.com - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 10:45
Freshened up and ready for the flock.

Last night was the third night for the chickens with their new roost and shelter. The thing is, our roost is new, but our hens are old. And chickens are creatures of habit, with very wee noggins, so it takes a bit of negotiating and manipulating to get them into new routines.

See Trillian, the golden Ameraucana? She's roosting on the tension cable. That is the spot where most of the hens roosted, back when I provided them with a cottage and actual roosts, and other suitable refuges. Even in the middle of our worst storms, I would rush to their aid, and discover them all, beaks and breasts to the gale, swinging and clinging to that cable, and mad as wet hens. Crazy birds, indeed. But with the old cottage out, and the shade cloth taken down, too, they have no easy way of reaching that slim cable, and on this third night, only Trillian managed the feat of flying up and nailing her landing.

Cocky little hen. Two hens, Liberty and Emma Thompson, opted to sleep in the nest box. And four hens, the ones I manually placed on the roost the first, and second, night, had it figured out... Fiona, Mako, Koa, and Momma Thomson were settled in on the new roost. Only the two Wyandotte hens, Pepper and Pippi, were pacing and eye-balling the cable. Those two hens are pretty sure of themselves, and have not taken kindly to my interference in their bedtime routines. I managed to park Pippi on the roost. She was not happy about it, but she finally calmed herself, and stayed put.

Pepper paced and squawked, and kept measuring the cable. You can practically see the gears turn, hear the motor hum, in their tiny heads, when they are calculating a move. She decided to approach the second cable, from an old pine trunk. She studied her target, measured the distance, took wind speed and direction into account, and I waited for her to make the attempt. I've diagrammed the scene for you...

"Spot where Pepper almost lost her head..." that was not a pleasant thing to witness. Her plan may have been sound but the execution was almost a beheading. She slammed into the cable, neck first, then fell gracelessly. I would have been about 75% more concerned and sympathetic if Pepper weren't such a mean chicken. I think she must have some bounce to her, because she walked off and looked ready to try again, but I intervened.

This is your roost, now, Pepper. And it seemed she'd never stopped squawking her objection.

Hello, clucked Fiona, amiably.

Cluck-off, squawked Pepper, anxiously. I'm flying the coop!

She paced and squawked, shifted, and huffed, until the light faded, and she could not see the ground, or any reason to jump, after all. I suspect she woke up with the rising sun, and fancied she'd always roosted in this spot, and always will. With a little negotiating, and a little manipulating, even an old hen can settle into a new roost routine.

Tasha and Ada have had an easier time adjusting to their new shelter. Their only concern is that Geoff installed a hose, and to their dismay, I was hosing off fences and equipment. Water! Shudder! Our dear ungulates think water, especially the kind that splashes and sprays, is the worst, most cringeworthy substance imaginable. Neither of them got a drop wet, but long after I put the hose away, they approached warily, deeply concerned.

All clear, Ada. You're safe.

All clear, all safe, and oh-so beautiful.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Tea & Company

Chickenblog.com - Tue, 09/19/2017 - 09:51

Maria tiptoed into our room with a big cup of hot tea, for me. Suddenly a cozy morning, beneath an open window, with hints of fall blowing in, became even sweeter. I sat up to sip my treat, Maria slipped between the covers, and the cats positioned themselves for snuggling, too. What could possibly compel me to leave this nest? While Geoff slept, Maria and I chatted in whispers, we giggled, sighed, and doted on cats. I picked up my shawl, added two more rounds. Now it's at the plodding part, where it takes a lot more effort to show any results. It progresses, somehow.

Maria and I talked about the first, official, day of fall, and how soon is not too soon to bring out Halloween decorations. We talked about all the pretty things we saw when we went window-shopping, and then we played with the collar of fluff Cairo wears around his shoulders, and admired how regal he looks. I reflected that I will be making a floral crown for a friend, this week. Then, Maria described our shared desire to return to Massachusetts. We don't need much prompting to think of why we should go, what we would do. This time she declared, "We could add maple leaves to the crown," and we both recalled the maple leaf roses we made in Jennifer and Ken's garden. And we sighed some more, wistfully, longing for New England and our friends there.

Tea in bed. What a thoughtful gift. And clouds, and open windows, cats, and Maria's joyful, generous company... it's wonderful to be in a beautiful moment, to feel it, and hold it, and store it up for happy recollection.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Bird House & Barn... Late Summer

Chickenblog.com - Sun, 09/17/2017 - 11:53

Inside, outside... a lovely weekend.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

While The Washers Spin...

Chickenblog.com - Sat, 09/16/2017 - 10:08
"Email us if you know of or have a weird home," Weird Home Tours. I read this description, aloud, from an Instagram account that started following BOoMNerds, our page for Benevolent Order of Makers. I looked up, from my phone, and was face to face with this familiar face, who asked, wryly, "Do we have a weird home?" On the whole, we are flattered.

It's alright that I am sitting at my desk, editing photographs, examining my deep thoughts and other musings, because I am parallel processing. That's right, while I compose insightful reflections, and cover significant news of the day, my washing machine is spinning clothes in soap and water, and my dishwasher is spinning soap and water on our cups and plates. And for a shiny moment, I congratulate myself and feel a brilliant, if brief, sensation of accomplishment, success.

In other news, Maria and I figured out that there hasn't been a post or picture about, or of, our kitty, Neo Cairo Nepenthes, in over a month. We would like to remedy this sad oversight with a fresh crop of pictures of The Boop, our Puppy Cat.

Neo Cairo Nepenthes I, in repose~

Neo Cairo Nepenthes I, in indifference~

Someone forgot to return this chair to it's usual spot, and it's been wandering from room to room since June. Recently, it settled on a niche at the bottom of the stairs, next to the side table that also established itself at the entry, and has since become an established fixture. Cairo has claimed the chair as his own. The cat glares mercilessly at people, or objects, that avail themselves of his property. And this is, in part, how we decorate. Something finds its way into our home, and inevitably it assumes a purpose, or it becomes so conspicuous that it, paradoxically, is invisible, and is left alone.

Observe: Conspicuous, leave it alone.

Chango, on watch for things that may be trying to find their way into our home.

Oh! I hear the dulcet tune of our washer, and so I must away!

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.


Chickenblog.com - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 13:40

Dare I say... summer is waning? We had a terrible spell of record heat, and humidity. But that was over quickly, mercifully. Days are perceptibly shorter. I bought yarn. Yarn in a decidedly autumn hue, golden and spiced, like pumpkin, like leaves still hanging in trees, but ready to fall. I am ready to fall. Ready to crochet shawls, and make soups. Ready to anticipate falling leaves. Ready to read aloud, not sitting between two fans and open windows, but near the fireplace, with quilts, and cats, woolen socks. I feel the tug of home, and as I was browsing through my phone, I thought my longing for comforts and coziness of home are pretty evident in the pictures I've been taking. It makes me thankful, glad.

Say "Cheese!"

Chickenblog.com - Thu, 09/14/2017 - 10:45
Ruth, Bex, Ido, and Spencer~

A few times a year we throw open the barn doors and invite everyone in for a day of making and sharing. This time we wanted to welcome our cousin Landon into the mix... he's got designs and plans for making a folding knife, and Alex is mentoring him on this project. Seems we couldn't stop at knife making, so we invited other makers over, and Lisa arrived with a taco salad banquet, then we found ourselves getting a cheese making lesson. It's our love of making, of STEAM education activities and advocacy, that gets these things rolling, but it's our fun and generous friends that turn an idea into an unforgettable event.

Leo, Amira, Maria, and Adrian for a round of DnD~

Magic the Gathering at the next table over, with Lucas, Alex J, Max, and Corey... always room for one more!

Have we met? Yes... Ido, Leslie, William, Paul, and Simon... lots of supplies and ideas already gathering steam.

Say 'hello' to Ido's little friend. Junkcade and BOoM Nerds are at it again... with a little Arduino magic, Tony Manero is going to light up the disco floor.

Here is Landon, our newest BOoM Nerd. I couldn't keep up with all of the tinkering, experimenting, sandblasting, plasma-cutting fun Landon and Alex were having.

Two certified welders, and one eager apprentice. Our group works on the idea that anyone can become proficient at a task, and then pass those skills along. So, no matter your age, in any project or activity, you are either a mentor or a student. Peer teaching, engagement, sharing... by encouraging everyone to participate as students, and as teachers, we increase our resources, build confidence, and accomplish more making. Collaboration, and cooperation, make for fantastic skill building experiences.

Ido, Lily, Matt, and Natalie visited the hens and goats, for fun, and to talk about coop and run design and construction... we have loads of experience with that, and we are happy to share.

Paul, and Geoff checking out something Simon is in to.

Ido, Paul, and Matt~

A little research for the dance floor...

Lucas and Max bring Paul M, visiting from Wisconsin, to the table for an MTG introduction.

And Leslie brings Bex, Adrian, Amira, Maria, and Leo to the kitchen for a mozzarella making introduction. All (clean) hands on the curd!

Landon, mixing in the salt, before we add the boiling water.

Leslie was our expert on this project, and we all marveled at how magical it was seeing the cheese suddenly happen. Making mozzarella was easy, fun, delicious. I wouldn't have guessed we could do it so quickly, simply, and I am glad Leslie shared the curd, and her skills. This needs to be a regular activity.

And what do you do with all that cheese? You top your pizza! For this we had Lisa and Leslie to make dough, and Tim to build a beautiful pizza. This was just about the time Michael came by to check on Leo, and he had a fresh harvest of tomatoes from Grace's garden... just happened. What a fortuitous arrival.

And on the porch... electronics, soldering, Arduino, and Tony Manero.

And also... Tim, William, Alex, and Bex... with paper mâché for a cosplay mask.

Like I said, Always room for one more.

Amira, Leslie, Lisa, and Tim... pizza's out of the oven! This was round 2 for good eating. Lisa fed us all lunch, too. Cooking is some of the best making there is!

Everyone was on hand to appreciate this make project!

Want to see Tony Manero do his Saturday Night Fever disco? Check out BOoMNerds on Instagram!

A New Direction

Chickenblog.com - Thu, 09/07/2017 - 13:47

With Infinity More Monkeys, Chickenblog has been posting a picture a day for over a year and half. I've enjoyed it, and at times I have been vexed by it... I always have pictures, but sometimes I am short on time, or gumption. Lately, I have been particularly derailed... because of new schedules, old patterns, new demands, old habits. I am sure there's a good reason, somewhere in the mix, for my not staying on track, but maybe it's alright to take a new direction, for now, or forever. We'll see.

Last week, Maria and I went to see some friends... Leo, and Bosco, and we met Mabel (she's on Instagram: MaeMae_MiniPig) It was nice walking the doggos, and Mabel... well, she's just a hoot!

I want to say more. But I just spent a long time being aggressively friendly and effusive about a band I love, and now, I suspect, I should get back to homeschooling, carpooling, cleaning, cooking, and other "ings."

Chicken Give-Away!

Chickenblog.com - Fri, 09/01/2017 - 11:12
Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner Squawk!
Sometimes, being a Chicken Blogger has hilarious perks... like when Mattel Games sends you an egg-splosive new chicken game to play with! My friends know I love chickens, and I've received a good number of chicken themed gifts over the years, but it's pretty funny to have your chicken obsession recognized by a toy company!

Squawk arrived in the mail, nestled in a charming bed of straw-like pine shavings, and all ready to give us our first laugh (incidentally this is my first mail-order chicken delivery, and I've always wanted to receive chicks by post.)

"Press Me!" Of course I did, and I was not disappointed. Ok... I am not sure it sounds like any chicken I've ever heard, but it is farcically funny. It's not part of the game, but I have to add: Mister Foo came running into the room, and he meowed every time the chicken exclaimed it's ridiculous Squawk!

Are you curious? Do you have little kids in the house, grandchildren visiting, are you like me... indefinitely childish?? Mattel Games would like ChickenBlog to share two of these games with our readers! Fun, right? I am going to make this as light-hearted and simple as this silly and fun game... just leave a comment. Comment here, on this post, and I will put your name in the top hat. If you comment at our Instagram page, then I will add your name a second time. We will draw two names on September 8th! You could be the lucky winner! Winner winner, Chicken Squawk! Winner!

Last night we had some friends over, and Sebastian spied my Squawk... and I thought, "Aha! Good time for a test run."

Squawk is on her nest, in the coop, and when Sebastian rolled a "2" he got to press her for an egg, two times. It's a game of chance, and suspense, as you wait for an egg-splosive egg lay from your nesting hen.

This is a toy. And it reminds me of other toys that were eagerly anticipated and hoped for when I was a kid, when my own children wrote a Christmas list, asked Santa. It's an obvious thing to say 'it's a toy,' but I think we sometimes forget to just play, to let children play. We get a little obsessed about "educational" and lose sight of giggles, peals of laughter, silliness, making up new rules, having fun. So, in light of play and silly toys, I think this toy has appeal. And I know Sebastian, Maria, Shayla, and Mister Foo think it's fun, too.

There was some assembly involved... easy. There are instructions for play and game pieces. I think our friends had the most fun when I stepped back and just let them play, of course. It's simple. It's silly. It's loud. It's a toy! I hope you want one... you might enjoy the laughs, like I have.

And kudos to Mattel for losing the plastic-coated wire twist ties that plague toy packaging. I happened to notice and very much appreciate their compostable paper twist tie... and I think it's a nice step for our environment.

I Cannot Say

Chickenblog.com - Wed, 08/30/2017 - 11:42
Sometimes it really frustrates me that I blog, that writing is my most compulsive, instinctive, means of being, of expressing, of connecting with my own feelings, and relating those to the world. All of this frustrates me, because I feel my skills are too limited, my efforts feeble, my success mediocre. When I feel most sincere, most impassioned, I dread being too much... too sensitive, too effusive, and not nearly sophisticated, nor articulate, enough. I resign myself to recording moments and occasions for my own pleasure, to keep track of happiness, to make a narrative of what we do, what we love, and I often censor myself, saying less, being less. But, there are times when I want to reach... to capture and convey, in exactitude, something that transcends nouns and verbs, and genuinely, coherently carries my experience, observations, emotions, to connect with you, the friend, the stranger, the person I imagine might like to perceive what I am trying to reveal... even just so I can make sense of what is in me. I wish that I could exude words from my hands, deposit the amalgam of emotions, sensations, ideas, and impressions that are in me, onto paper, a screen. I can imagine a keyboard with a kind of symbiotic empathy, to give form to my intangible impulses, beliefs, sensations... I find this appealing, and appalling.

I pause. Uncertainty creeps in, and I think about the laundry that needs tackling, the list of things that need doing, that are actually important. And I wonder, really puzzle... How do people do it? How do people work, and create, exercise, clean, inspire, and succeed? You amaze me. It's wrong, I suppose, to assume that everyone else is 'doing it right' and has a handle on things, but I've seen it. There are amazing people out there, and I am in awe of what they do. I have these ideas and feelings, a narrative formulating and I can't help but try to say it, to put it into words... but I stand in my own way, with lists of chores, with self-doubt, second-guessing, with a kind of gnawing anxiety of doing it poorly, of being too much, or not reaching quite far enough. Sometimes, likely too often, the results are a half-baked post, bills paid late, and no clean socks in the morning.

What I had intended, hoped to do, was write about a concert, about incredibly talented, hard working people who gave so generously of themselves that 18,000 people stood and cheered, danced, and sang along. I meant to find the words to say that there is a power in music, in the hearts of people who make music, to convey energy, to project their joy, their message, their intentions, and it's so effective, so tangible that one can feel... zealous? The insinuation is not good. I mean it less fanatically, more inspired, connected emotionally. I wonder, in another language, is there a word or expression for energy that crosses from one person to another, an unseen force that connects us?

But, I have errands to run, and we are almost out of clean socks...

Pink Martini Splendor

Chickenblog.com - Sun, 08/27/2017 - 23:30
Maybe I'm a hopeless dreamer
Maybe I've got it wrong
But I'm going where the grass is green
If you like to come along

Splendor in the Grass,
Pink Martini
William, Alex, Geoff, and Max ::
Beckie and Kai, Delia, Maria, Liz, and Natalie

Going where the hills are green
And the cars are few and far
Days are full of splendor
And at night you can see the stars

Life's been moving oh so fast
I think we should take it slow
Rest our heads upon the grass
And listen to it grow

It's no secret, I love Pink Martini, the band, the guests, the spirit, the music. Their story goes back to 1994, or maybe further, because it's more than the founding of a band... I think it began with Thomas Lauderdale's ideals, and talents, and his willingness to share a means of expressing those standards and skills with a band, with the world. Pink Martini is a reflection of the endurance of love, of our resilience, of the beauty in diversity, and the achievement of excellence through collaboration. Their music is excellent, skillful, exuberant, and through the studied practice of their discipline... it is easy, and as naturally joyful as unrehearsed play. I hesitate to single out any one particular person for all of this, but I do want to thank Thomas Lauderdale for starting a band, and for letting this body of people, with instruments, lyrics, voices, intentions, and beliefs "affirm the band’s 22-year history of global inclusivity and collaborative spirit."

Months and months ago, we all agreed to meet at the Hollywood Bowl to see Pink Martini, to picnic, and be together. Lucky for us, Liz and Beckie had all kinds of practical advice for getting to the Bowl, for making the most of an exceptional venue. We had a lot of fun, and a lot of great food, before 7:00pm rolled around. And we had a lot of time to anticipate what this night could hold in store for us. Our first time seeing Pink Martini set such a high standard for any concert experience, that we could hardly believe how fabulous our second Pink Martini experience turned out! Now we were reveling in the prospect of seeing a favorite band, this time with both China Forbes and Storm Large, as well as Ari Shapiro.

Is this the time and place to start naming every member of the band? Because I could. I could say how we love the percussionists, the horn players, the strings, how Brian Laverne Davis is an inspiration, how Miguel Bernal's voice is so soulfully expressive it makes us tear up, and Timothy Nishimoto's endearing Oh, Big One brings us to our feet. Each player in Pink Martini makes the music, makes the experience, whole and worthwhile... I have felt this, and appreciated it, since the first time seeing them play, hearing their sound, seeing the engagement they share with each other, with the audience, and it's a pleasure to witness those skills combined with a depth of emotion that can only be love, affection, and caring, sincerely and warmly conveyed.

Maybe this is the time and place to blush, in my stammering words, and say, I am glad I am not a professional critic, or musical reviewer. I have no formal training, you may have guessed, in music, or journalism, so all of this comes from an unrehearsed, uncensored affection, and earnest desire to say what I feel, in hopes of relieving my emotions, which refuse to be contained. I want to wrest from my memory, from the night, something elusive, abstract, yet palpable... which is the connection, beauty, and intimacy that Pink Martini gave in their Hollywood Bowl appearance. I want to hold and admire, and put into words, how generously, and validating of good, Pink Martini demonstrated a capacity to celebrate a small planet, with many faces, voices, ideas, emotions. In kindness, with affection, Pink Martini made us each, and all, feel worthy of standing on stage, included, celebrated, and beautiful.

Without preaching, or rallying with banners, Pink Martini brought together 17,000 people, blurred the lines between stage and audience, and showed in gestures, lyrics, and movement, how much we are alike, how our languages and differences are no barrier to music, harmony, strength, and collaboration. Literally and figuratively, Thomas Lauderdale and his band brought strangers, nations, and voices, together, in music, in feeling. And the feeling was of inclusivity, of celebration of our diversity and our common bonds, our humanity. Love is love... we all have sad songs and love songs, and we all get tired, and we, each of us, wants to be loved, to be respected, to have a voice. I watched, even from as far away as Row K, and I marveled at how beautiful China Forbes is, and Ari Shapiro, and then I saw how beautiful everyone is, and I wanted, then and there, to remember for always that amazing feeling... Thomas Lauderdale and all of the band, in their generous hearts and art, were including us in their message, in their music and inviting us to see the stars, to rest our heads upon the grass and listen to it grow, to be an America that dreams, and believes, for all.

And they kept giving... it was like a good party, where old and new friends keep arriving, and the celebration rises, increases. And I felt the magnanimity, and joy, of their intentions, their rehearsals, their travels, and what they've studied, of inviting people to sing with them, of Storm Large singing with every fiber of her being, if not her actual voice... I felt it all, and was transfixed by the enchantment of being connected, almost tangibly, by the power of music. I couldn't help but think of what I have been fearing, what I have been sad about, and worried over, how recent events have made it hard to feel hopeful, and to not get weary. I thought of all the heavy things, the obstacles before us, but this time with renewed purpose, refreshed with uplifting energy, ambition, and a sense of being connected with the warriors, and singers who have come before us, who have inspired us to stand strong, in love, in light. It was a gift to be reminded of happiness, and harmony. Pink Martini made a very large space felt intimate and safe. We are resilient, we are beautiful, we are hopeful... together, that was the rhythm and tune Pink Martini played, loud and clear. If the world has a house band in 2017, I think it could be Pink Martini, and they invite us to come along.