Chicken Blog by Natalie

BOoM Emporium - Mon, 11/25/2019 - 12:00
Our Etsy shop is the boomEmporium... The Benevolent Order of Makers are selling their wares, art, and works... for now it's all about our hand carved, original designs and block prints on napkins and tea towels. We look forward to expanding and sharing more of the many articles we create.

This is all new to us. Thank you for your patience and feedback. And thank you for visiting our shop, and telling your friends about it, spreading the word, sharing our name.

Opening at Noon PST - Mon, 11/25/2019 - 08:53
Today, at noon pst, we will open our Benevolent Order of Makers Shop, at Etsy. That's a long name for a little shop, so we gave it a name nearly as long, which we will post here when the *doors open!*

This link will show you some of the items that will be available.

I am tweaking, still. And nervous. There were a lot of decisions to make, and questions to address. I am on the fence about international shipping, and... well, more, which I know will eventually sort itself out. For certain, I have a greatly raised respect and awe for all you online makers and shop keepers; you're amazing! Friends, thank you for your support, encouragement, and patience. I hope we manage all of this with grace and efficiency.

Something New! - Sat, 11/16/2019 - 14:37
Am I putting the goat before the cart?

You see, I've been designing and carving stamps, and then using them to print on fabric. A nice thing to come of all of this... many friends have asked me to open a shop, make the napkins, aprons, and tea towels available for purchase. I even took a special request to carve a goat!

I've been busy and I've managed to print a good amount, and I would like to make them available before Thanksgiving. Gee, nothing like creating my own holiday rush! So, without a shop, or a shop name, or mailing envelops, before I figure out PayPal, or Venomo or Carrier Chickens... I am about to launch the business end of a little cottage industry. I am hoping that by announcing this now, and sharing some previews, I will push myself into figuring out the bureaucracy and formal aspects of being a working artist. Another hope is that some clever and dear friends may share their tips and suggestions for handling sales, pricing, packing, exfoliating, and reducing fine wrinkles. Just kidding about exfoliating, but I could probably use some ironing tips... 100% cotton is hard to keep pressed!

I am going to share some samples of what I have been making, but I am not taking any orders until I can be certain of how I will take payments, and handle deliveries. So! Before I am OPEN I will announce an official day and time, and accept orders, then.

"Buffet" napkins! They are a generous 20" x 20", 100% cotton. There will be a few sets of 5, and mostly sets of 6.

Alex designed and carved the dragonfly. The patience! He printed them flitting across the napkins, in different directions. They look amazing!

All of these are our own designs, hand carved, and hand printed.

Dish cloth, tea towel, chicken scarf? These would be fun to add embroidery to. They are 27" x 27", 100% cotton, and a very nice weight. Sometimes these are called "flour sack" and can be very thin, and not square... these are well finished, and thick(er).

I am really happy with the weight, structure, and feel of these towels.

Bee and honeycomb on a big, handy tea towel.

These three stamps are inspired by papel picado, the Mexican art of paper cutting.

This bee, with some honeycomb, is printed on a 100% cotton, wrap apron. I love how the wide straps of this can be pull over-head, and cross in the back, so there are no apron strings to tie. Also, it has 2 nice sized pockets in the front.

The apron is a nice weight, and looks and feels like natural linen. I haven't taken it off since modeling it.

Designing, carving, and printing has been a lot of fun, and I appreciate how encouraging friends have been. I will be back with an update as soon as possible!

Thoughtful Consumer - Wed, 10/16/2019 - 14:31
Sometimes I wonder whether I am being thoughtful, or simply over thinking, perhaps obsessing. Maybe you can help me... either make a reasonable decision, or obsess.

Last night I was changing our bed sheets. I am very close to fully accepting that we need new sheets. We are down to one set, with some small tears, and a top sheet that that I bought... mmmmm, in 2001. Seems like just when the flannel is worn to a perfect softness and has become comfortingly familiar, that's when it gets thready and shreds, badly. I have been known to "patch" sheets, but, it's not a guaranteed thing, and really ugly..


You know what? I think I am definitely definitely over-thinking and obsessed. Our sheets are flippin' old and practically in tatters, and it's time to buy new ones.

Same for the quilt. It too was purchased in 2001, and it's so frayed and worn, I don't think it will hold through another wash!

What am I going to do? Seriously... it's very distressing to me, for one reason: I love this quilt, and I can still conjure the joy of ordering it, having it on our bed, appreciating the prints, it's weight, how nicely it fits on our bed. I love this quilt! The other reason I am concerned is that it's really quite large, and too far gone to donate, and throwing it away feels like a terrible waste of materials. It's very heavy. If I repaired it, it would have to be a matter of using the whole thing as the batting of a whole new bed cover, and that would make it even heavier... too heavy for our washer, I am sure.



Do you know what's going to happen? I am going to be fixated on this, and the quilt will stay on the bed long past a reasonable time, while I try to come up with an ethical, environmentally, economical and aesthetically gratifying solution. And buying sheets will take me forever, too, unless I see the perfect print, on sale, at Target.

Me, thinking about shopping for bedding.

Our Fall Colors - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 14:37

Not my garden, but definitely inspiration and goals! I saw all of these on a walk... a slow walk. It's been a slow week. And I almost cancelled all of my plans, but fortunately, I got some physical therapy, and helpful suggestions for pain management. Adjusting my sails, and rethinking everything, helped me regain some peace, and sense.

When I couldn't paint big, I went back to some old works and added a little color.

Happiest of all, I decided I would not cancel the picnic we had planned. When "life happens," and there are setbacks to our health, disruptions, it always make me especially sad to forego the good stuff, and skip on happy plans. I had invited everyone to bring their own lunch, meet us at the park, and hang out. I reasoned that there was so little for me to do that it would be a shame to call it off. I brought pillows and a blanket and the conviction to relax and take it easy... and I could not be happier about that decision! We shared beautiful weather, surrounded by trees, and hints of the season, with laughter, some crafting, a bit of pickle ball, lots to eat, and a darling pup (Hello, Akira! Everyone loves you, Akira.) Geoff rode his bicycle over, and there were trees to climb, a turtle crossing, shade and sun, great talks, and great company. With each family bringing their picnic, and all the sharing, no single person was carrying the load. In the end, I felt invigorated and ready for another picnic! Maybe it was the forest bathing? For sure it was easy quality time, face to face with friends, that set my mind and heart right for the week ahead.



Amira and Maria, building fairy houses and ships~

With Leo, too~


Geoff, Leslie, and Ido~

Carol teaching Bex how to sew French knots~

Michael and Grace~

Natalie, Stacy, and Diana~

Simon, Ido, and Leslie~

Lucas, Diana (crocheting F-bombs!... I need a tutorial), Akira, and Geoff~

Corey and Max~

Maria, Corey, and Max~

Now... the thing is to remember that this was easy and totally worthwhile, and that I should not let 2 years go by, again, before having another meet in the park picnic with friends.

Here, Again... - Thu, 10/10/2019 - 14:38
Feels like I am back where I started. Besides the black tongue, sore face and jaw, aching teeth, contusions and concussion, besides feeling like my sternum was crushed, I had pain and limited mobility in my neck... pain that radiated down the right shoulder, around the base of my head, and the headache. The Headache is one altogether belonging to the collision, December 6th, when the dui drove into my van. Sometimes I say something about it, about the recurring headache, or about physical therapy, about court hearings, or wearing a night guard, but for all the times I am dealing with all of the fallout of that night, I only share a small fraction. I'd rather move forward, and most people seem to believe I have, that it's over, and I can move on.

I want to move on. I've done all I can think of or manage to get over it. Physical therapy, counseling, exercise, outings, weight loss, turning my thoughts to good things, making plans, confronting fears. And when I don't say anything, it seems like things are "normal." But, at best, it's a struggle, this new normal. I startle, I spook, I have panic attacks, and nightmares. I cannot paint or write or crochet without getting the headache, tiring. Gardening is hard, moving boxes, or carrying down a load to wash... I tire, ache. I gotta pace myself. And I sure do not relish admitting the cognitive toll the collision took. It's so hard to focus, to read long text, or documents, to make sense of instructions. Some tasks feel so daunting, I cannot face them. Memory loss, recognizing people I've met... that, too.

When I had to make a victim's statement at the sentencing hearing... I held back. I didn't want to list all of the setbacks, read aloud to a courtroom of strangers, other defendants, the many ways I feel devastated, how I feel myself slipping further and further behind. I feel ashamed, like a failure, like someone to pity or avoid. Our culture holds people in a high place when they can dust themselves off, and start all over again. I am trying. I don't want pity. I don't want to be writing victim's statements, and I don't want to have all of the struggles and real hardships of a victim, but it's no good pretending that it's over, and ok, now.

The sentencing hearing was one of the most stressful, emotionally jarring experiences of my life. I prepared for it, and readied myself, but it hit hard. Afterwards, many people said, again, all the variants of these... well, it's done. The worst is behind you. Now you can move forward. It's over. You did it. Between my emotional exhaustion and desperately wanting to move forward, put it behind me, I let physical therapy slip. I felt better than my worst days, I reasoned, and how can I get over it if I am still dealing with it? Not going to PT gave me the (false) notion that I was going back to "normal," and "putting it behind me."

There is another hearing coming up, and the possibility that there will be one more after that. This is still for the State v her. The civil side has been initiated. And for the record... I had no desire to sue her, or draw this out, but her insurance stopped returning my calls. I had to get an attorney. This means I have to immerse myself in all of it, again, and again, and again. More statements, more reports, more accounts of what happened, more paperwork, phone calls, office visits, documents. The headache comes, and won't hardly leave. I slip further behind. I can't keep up.

Yesterday morning I woke up, like always, in time to rouse Maria, get the day rolling. I turned my head from the pillow and heard a tearing, like a stick cracking in pieces, and the pain lit like a match. The same pain, the same place... the tension of the headache, calling my name and settling in, as if to say, "I am not done with you." I was trapped in the van, hurting and scared, and that same feeling comes back, all too often. I hurt from the top of my head, down my neck, into the right shoulder, down my arm. My back hurts from trying to stay still, my heart hurts from trying to remain hopeful, my head hurts from being alone with my thoughts...

I am thinking of how far behind I fell since the collision, how hard I have fought to regain normalcy, our home-life and my quality of life. I am thinking, that all of my efforts and good faith have betrayed me, and I am back here, again. I cannot lift things, or turn my head, I can't keep clear thoughts, pay attention, focus. I do not want to be a victim. I do not want pity. I do not want to stay here. But I am not going to make nice and pretend, I am not going to apologize or be embarrassed and hurting. Honesty includes bad news, and hard times, and real accounts of recovery... slow, hard, with setbacks, maddening, ugly, messy, not graceful.

Our health insurance sends packets of paperwork... numbers and figures, the court sends forms and requests: Basically, I keep having to give accounts and documents about costs and payments, what damages I have endured, and restitution. For the criminal case, and for the civil case

Yesterday, I saw all of the costs of things I cannot put a number on, and it's breaking my heart...
Getting dressed hurts, so does sleeping, breathing, turning my head, thinking.

I cannot crochet, which is my mediation, my safeguard against panic, boredom, shyness.

I cannot paint or sketch, and this means a loss of expression, and income, and participation in my classes that I am enrolled in.

I cannot print, nor carve. I have orders for prints. I'm sorry. I will do those as soon as possible. And same for the educational materials illustrations I have been commissioned to do.

I cannot garden. The flat of new flowers is withering, the bed is neglected. I want to dig, and pull weeds, lay down mulch, plant, sow, harvest. I want my life, and my strength, and my peace. No playtime with goats, or hanging out with chickens. I am a bad farmer.

I cannot keep my commitment to exhibit and sell at the fall Tractor Show. How many opportunities and chances to grow have I had to pass up?

I cannot drive... to schools, or the market, to the doctor. Well, anywhere, of course. I am dependent. And yes, I have resources, friends, options, but I do not have my own self to rely on, my independence and resilience, and freedom. And I am imposing on others.

Look around... if it needs attention, I am not there to manage it. Not laundry, nor cooking, not putting stuff away, or decorating for Halloween, or figuring out the restitutions paperwork, or any paperwork. I love taking Maria to school, bringing her home, Max, too. I guess I love doing it myself, all of it, because I am feeling tortured by the idea of needing help, more help. I want to do. Instead, I am canceling plans, and not making new ones. I am slipping further and further behind, and stuck in my own head, with sad thoughts, and shame.

This makes for shite blog material, but whatever. I am doing one thing, at least... documenting my journey, and telling my truth. Now, back to physical therapy...

Ha! Maybe the pictures won't publish, because I cannot maintain my own computer, because I was hit by a woman that drove with twice the legal limit of alcohol in her bloodstream, and she's made my good life shite. I should probably get back into psychotherapy, too...

Dear Chango - Tue, 10/01/2019 - 19:59

We don't really know when he was born. He and his brother, Bongo, were found in an abandoned car, and were too young to adopt right away. Starting in May, 2000, I would take William, Alex and Max to the shelter and we would visit the kittens we were adopting. We celebrate all of our cat's birthdays on April 1. Chango lived an adventurous, healthy, loved and loving life. We are sad about his passing.

We shared memories, familiar and favorite stories, and we cried. It's never easy, is it? How could it be? He's one of the family, and we love him. And we are thankful for the long and memorable life he shared with us, for the pictures and stories we can recall, and revisit...

March, 2003... Chango and Diego, from our days living on a couple acres, under a big, blue sky. Chango loved his country home, with Nena, and our first chickens, and all of those gophers!

October 2003... Already 3 years old. All of his baby pictures were on film. Scan photos is on a list of things to do.

June 2011... I was impressed when he was 11 years old. Now that seems a long time ago.

December 2011... am I romanticizing things, or were he and Benjamin Franklin Thundercat good pals? I miss those two.

April 2014... a 14th birthday celebration for Chango, and Mister Washburn Foo's first birthday. Now, I am really sad.

October 2015... Chango only got sweeter, more trusting, more quirky with age. We began thinking of him as a Grandfather, our Grandfather. He was so easy to love.

January 2016... almost 16 years old, and slowing down, but as dear as ever.

June 2016... this was when we had all those cats, and it couldn't have been more fun. We loved these days with Foo, and Chango, and the new baby, Cairo.

March 2017... with each passing year, we raised our affection and doting. We were so lucky to know him, our old man cat.

Nocturnal Blue - Thu, 09/26/2019 - 09:47
The free-cycle picnic table is restored and embraced. We left the legs shabby-chic, weathered and sealed, and the seat and table top were scraped then painted in a dreamy deep shade of blue... Nocturnal Blue. It happens to look extra with pumpkins and mums!

Outside, we are ready for company, a fire, a starry-night dinner with friends. Inside we are ready for whipping things into shape, because things are getting a bit "lived in."

You know what? It is what is. It's been a busy week, and if I get too over-wrought about what I am not accomplishing, it will be kind of disastrous, because there's no sign things will be any less busy in the weeks and months ahead. So, steady on! And keep moving forward.

Maria gave so much thought, research, study, and learning to this physics project... a mouse trap car, designed and built to stop at a predictable distance.

She and her physics partner will get to demonstrate the car today, and I wish I could be there to see it go, and stop!

The first thing I wanted to see the next morning... our new table. We ate our dinner there. Well, some of us did. Maria ate her dinner with a headset, listening to a school lesson, and an open book. Her classes are hard enough, but she's been sick all week, trying to recover, and keep up, after missing 2 days of classes. We are imagining that this trying week means that she's paid her dues, and will be healthy, and strong, for the remainder of the year, and that we will enjoy many relaxed dinners around our table(s).

This week our watercolor assignments are all about brushstrokes... calligraphy. They're drills, warm-ups, and help me learn what each brush is capable of. Single strokes, double strokes, and repeated strokes. Round brushes, filberts, flats, pressing, dabbing, dragging, lifting, turning. It's interesting to get familiar with all the possibilities, and recognize what different effects there are and how they can be used. I liked seeing the simple swipe that looked just like a banana, and then I decided it could be a boat. The figures... people, animals are the hardest for me. They are small, and meant to be done in quick, minimal strokes. I struggle to not over do it!

Our teacher suggested we find bamboo placemats to use as brush holders. The ideal thing is to keep the brushes flat, and dry. I found a great deal on some mats, and got very ambitious about adding a sleeve to one. Well. I am happy with how it turned out, but ooph! that was harder than expected, and I am going to take precious care of this brush holder, because I don't want to hand stitch around finely tied bamboo sticks, again!

We still have a bun garden. We still have a very large Viking tent in need of repairs. We still have a sewing machine, also in need of repair. But... let's just gaze at this cute bun, shall we?

Buns, flowers, clouds, garden lights, pumpkins, picnic tables. All the pretty things.

I was just reading a therapist's post about trauma and how we manage strategies to escape the intensity of our emotions, especially negative ones... and how one strategy is to overly and excessively focus on the positives. (Here is where I casually mention that the DA's office called me to talk about the forms and additional reporting they need me to submit, and how important it is that I am "thorough and convincing, otherwise the defense could object and we would have to add another hearing after the first restitutions hearing." Will this never end?? Bunnies. Bunnies. Soft pillows, bunnies.)

Witch Physicist. She told me she's happy being a sophomore, and she loves her school.

Have you stacked some pumpkins?

Values, Lines, Musings - Tue, 09/24/2019 - 11:17
These Gomphrena were all lopped off by bunnies, and I am so glad to see them blooming, again. They are a variety of strawflower, and the petals are crisp, stiff, like straw. I don't notice much fragrance, but they are bright and cheery, and if bunnies aren't snipping the stems, they are hardy. I keep imagining that I am going to take my collection of cut ones and make a dried floral arrangement of them. In the meantime, I am happy to see them in our garden.

Geoff and I bought and assembled a picnic table, and it's in the backyard, next to the blacksmith shop. We love it. It's already appreciated and used, and making sense. Would a second picnic table make sense? I hadn't thought to ask, or ponder, until one showed up on the curb with a big "FREE" sign taped to it. Geoff's first impression was No. Then it was Nope. And when I suggested we take a closer look, he decided, No. No way. I didn't feel contentious, but I was feeling increasingly convinced that a picnic table in the our front yard, where we tend to hang out with neighbors, sit around a fire, sometimes take dinner... it would be a really good thing. And! We happened to have 4 strong men in the house who could carry a (slightly) wobbly, a bit rough, wooden picnic table down the street to our home. By the time Geoff was railroaded gently persuaded that it was in fair condition and would actually be useful, it was dark. We made it a family adventure, with Corey, too... all marching up the street to give the table a good look over and then carry it home. Half-way back, a couple of cars were coming our way, so the boys stepped to the side of the road, and all sat down, until traffic cleared, and they were rested. Along the way, Geoff could see the vision I was conjuring, and that the table is in better shape than expected. Today, we are hitting it with a scraper, sandpaper, and Behr Nocturnal Blue paint. And this weekend we can decide whether we would like a front yard picnic, or a backyard picnic.

Remember when I talked about how art classes have me seeing the world in new ways? Colors, values, tones, shapes, line... these lessons came to mind and gave me a soothing pastime while I waited in the lobby of my attorney's office. This view! With or without art lessons, this view would captivate me. Lindbergh Field, and the San Diego Harbor. I watched planes taxiing, landing, and taking off. I also studied the squares and triangles, circles, curves, lines, and shapes making all of the buildings, lamps, roofs. The big shapes, the small details. The arches of aircraft hangers, the decorative, repeating squares of an old house, and shadows. I didn't bring my sketchbook. This time I was carrying yarn. And I brought that out.

A paralegal took a load of paperwork off my hands, and those were photocopied. My attorney said that I had written a very good victim's statement, thanked me for all the details included in my report. And so... another ball is rolling.

With that accomplished, and me one step closer to done, I decided to treat myself. I am now in possession of a handmade watercolor brush from Barcelona. Remind me to use it... I don't want it to be so precious that I keep saving it for something special. Do you know what I mean?

On the walk to Artist & Craftsman Supply, I stopped to admire more lines and shapes, and values, and colors. And then I drove the scenic way home.

At the hardware store to buy paint for our curbside picnic table... Alex helped me choose the color, and we visited the pumpkins while they mixed our paint.

And, this morning... a still-life. Have I ever described what I think our ideal home would be? And this is not to say we don't have a wonderful home, already. But if we started from scratch, and made a realistic assessment of our behaviors, interests, needs, desires, and activities... our home, on the outside would look Midwestern, a farmhouse with covered porch, a bit rambling, old-fashioned. And inside it would be one massive, open, warehouse room, where we could skate on sealed concrete floors, and have various workstations, gathering spots, and the kitchen. Industrial Bohemian. Adjacent to this a smaller area with wood floors, and deep comfy couches, walls covered in books, and our screen and projector. Bedrooms would line the back of the house, small and minimally appointed for sleeping and changing clothes. No fuss. The bathrooms would be simple, almost perfunctory, designed for efficiency more than luxury. We live together, and play, and cook, and read, and talk, and relax, and make... together. Next to our dining table, we should have a dining table (a ruse, though) and it would be for making something other than breakfast.

My view, sitting in the car with yarn... carcheting another shawl, while I wait for the traffic to clear.

Now It Is Fall - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 11:32

Our weather has been kind; a tender mercy, and I am reluctant to say so, because it's probably only a very local phenomena. I know, elsewhere, weather is a sore subject, and rightly so. We have been enjoying sweetly mild weather. There was a heat and humidity spell, last week, but generally we have had cool nights, and warm and breezy days, even a couple of nearly coldish mornings. I feel as though I am about to insert a *but* in here... because there is still the chance that we could get hit with a heat wave, or worse, Santa Ana winds, dry, hot, and moody. I'd rather just remain thankful and cautiously optimistic. It's come to the point when Have a Nice Day, feels teeming with effusive hope, a wish to eagerly anticipate.

Happy Fall!

My first inkling and longing for this new season came the last day of August when we picked our own homegrown pumpkins. Then, once more on September 4th, when we had a splash of a summer storm. There are fewer beetles buzzing around, and lots more orb spiders, and big ones, too! Maria baked a pumpkin pie, and our Harvest Moon feast definitely put us in an autumn mood. Now it is official, and Max will be going back to school. The hens are beginning to molt, and pumpkin flavored most-everything is hitting the shelves.

Ok... I could go on, listing the signs of the change of season. I do this every year, I'm sure. Probably the most telling indication of it being fall is the one I cannot suppress, the giddy, eager, happy, gleeful, giggly, romantic, and hopeful humming inside of me.

That's it. It happens every year... and it makes me wish I could compose the finest poem, dedicated to autumn. It makes me long to return to Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine, to rock walls, and farm fields, rocky coasts, and friends. Fall is a song in my heart that I want to dance to, and share. Fall puts me in a holiday mood, recharges my desire to accomplish good things, make plans, turn to home and family, and get cozy. Definitely, a dear and anticipated part of fall is the quiet, warm, gathering comfort of being cozy... I am emotionally worked into such a state with these thoughts and ideas, feelings, hope!

I know someone else who loves fall, and fall traditions, delights, spooks and spells, crafts, and whimsy... Calamity Kim! She's my longtime, blogging friend, the one that has more creative skill and energy than an entire issue of Where Women Create! She was invited to be a vendor at Bewitching Peddlers of Halloween... Marshall, Michigan will be overrun with some of the best and spookiest crafters and artisans in the world, and Kim will be right there, too, where she belongs, with loads of her one of a kind, and lovingly made crafts and wares! I ordered a bag of hers before she flew north, and I love it!

Do you know what I did this morning? Geoff and I... we hopped out of bed, at 6:40 am and rode our bicycles to the coast! The ride was almost 7 miles going out, and then home was up hill, another 3 miles... no need to be too impressed, because the e-bikes make the improbable quite possible. For me, scarier than hills, up or down, is being in traffic, getting startled, or feeling on the edge of something unknown. But early on a Sunday is the time to feel slightly braver, a bit more capable.

There's more... but I am all worked up about the season, and I want to see what I can get started. And, too, I hope you will tell me about your days.

A Full Moon and Variegated Yarn - Wed, 09/18/2019 - 13:08
This is a not very good picture of a really beautiful scene. Alex called me to the porch to see the red-shouldered hawk in the jacaranda tree. I knew I couldn't get any closer without spoiling the moment, so I did what I could with my phone. I love it. I love that there are probably thousands of gorgeous photos of red-shouldered hawks, in books, on the Internet. I love that I could write an essay about the wonder of seeing this bird in our yard, how we worry about our hens, and implore him to go after the gophers, rats. I love that hawks never sound like I imagine they should... bold, and foreboding. No, they are shrill. They sound more imploring and uncertain than predatory and fierce. I love that a bad picture, so long as it is familiar, and can recall something special, can be a good picture.

We prepared a harvest feast, and shared our dinner with Janece and Paul and Amira, and then we waited for the Harvest Moon to rise. And then I took another bad good picture. The moon could be a garden light suspended above the neighbor's house, the white chair belongs on the porch, the Viking tent is waiting to be repaired, the lawn has lawn mange. I love this bad picture that brings back that moon, and good company, the perfect weather, with no mosquitos, surprising Amira with birthday treats and wishes, how good slightly burnt Brussel sprouts can be. We stayed up late watching music videos.

Here is a bad picture of our cat. Can you even see that there is a cat? I could have zoomed in, I could have skipped it all together... but I like to remember that he was small, practically obscured by house and blue paint, in the darkest shadowed corner. Cairo in his window. Cairo surveying his domain, observing birds and dogs, and all the comings and goings of the neighborhood. Cairo, waiting for us.

Later, as we were leaving on bicycles, I looked back, and saw evening lights and our Bird House dappled by tree shadows and looking good and homey, and so balancing my heavy bicycle, I *snapped* a picture, to remember the moment. And what it makes me think about is the tension between riding my bicycle, and seeing one beautiful sight after another, but never (or very rarely) stopping to take a picture. It's a bit torturous to not take pictures, to pass on capturing a pretty gate, a funny dog, the plumeria, clouds, trees, big views, little details. But it's a bit torturous to stop, too, because the ride is exhilarating, the breeze soothing, and though I want to capture what I am seeing, I am aware that it's not going to look the same, feel the same. I pedal on, taking it all in, like a moving picture.

Confession: I am very lucky. Is this a "confession" or a realization and admission? I am not sure. But, I have been enjoying support, encouragement, and opportunity, and together with space and time, I am not sure that those don't make me incredibly fortunate. I make art, and dabble, learn, practice, play, rest, heal, try, and try, again. Only company, and world peace could make it any sweeter. (And an unfailing success for keeping the house in order... that would certainly make things very very sweet.) I am enrolled in 2 art classes, a third one starting next month. I took a printing class, online. I've been designing, carving, and printing. I have access to clay, and a kiln, and there is pottery making at my fingertips! I want to embroider, paint, sew. I want to keep up the garden, make lilikoi curd, chiles rellenos, paint Maria's room. So much! I am lucky. I had a laugh at myself, because I have been feeling oppressed, concerned maybe... because it feels like too much, all the fun, all of the chances to play, and things I am dabbling in. I do hurt, and tire easily, but it was just the worry about being "spread too thin" that makes me uneasy. It makes me anxious, worried about what's being neglected, worried about what won't be attended, figuring out how to prioritize and manage the fun AND the laundry. And the laugh came because in the middle of this fretting, when I went to buy pencils for one of the classes, I saw this pretty yarn, on sale, and I couldn't resist. What to do when overwhelmed with too much to do? Start another project, of course!

I progressed very quickly, for 2 reasons: I was obsessed with seeing how the variegated yarn would reveal itself in each row, with each gradual change in color, and I was supposed to be gathering documents, bills, receipts, reports, and anything related to drunkladydriver, the hearings, and accident stuff. Here we go: the civil case. And I should be relieved(?) to hand all of this over to professionals, right? But no. Really, it all feels like poking a wound, exposing myself, and my vulnerabilities, and shortcomings, my muddled brain, fragile emotions. Nothing is easy. Except, maybe sitting with variegated yarn and turning it into a blue wave to wrap myself up with and hide. Crocheting is easy, taking bad pictures is pleasant, riding my bicycle and feeling cold and distracted is a relief, planting Gomphrena, roasting peppers, carving rubber into stamps, holding my pillows... those I can manage. But gathering bills, calling insurance companies, recalling her name, and recounting what happened is excoriating*, and exhausting, and I don't feel relieved or brave, or happy doing it.

I meant to write "excruciating," but wrote "excoriating" and had to look it up... and it might do as well as "excruciating." (Excoriate... damage or remove part of the surface of (the skin).
synonyms: abrade, rub away, rub off, rub raw, scrape, scratch, chafe, damage

This morning I emailed loads of facts, figures, and paperwork to our attorney. I'm sure it's not complete, that I'll need to find documents, or be asked to fax. God, don't ask me to fax stuff. Or make sense of figures and details, or ride in a car. But, I did something of it, and I feel super entitled to go buy 4 more skeins of variegated yarn, curl up with my pillows, take more pictures.

September - Thu, 09/12/2019 - 09:46

Our dear Antonia... I knew there could be nothing in the world she would want more than to be surrounded by family, especially the youngest, her bisnietos... her great-grandchildren. And so, I believe, she enjoyed a happy celebration of her 100th birthday. It was a relaxed day (for us guests, at least) and thoughtfully arranged, with beautiful flowers, and good things to eat, and family happily gathered in honor of a beloved woman.

The next day, I resumed my experiments with paint and the stamps I am carving. I am trying to figure out economical and safe ways of using the paints, and cleaning up. It's probably not a great activity for our septic system, so my goal is to reduce, as much as possible, how much cleaning up leads to paint down the drain. It means being a bit more deliberate and mindful about how I use the paint rollers, so I am trying to print as much as I can in one color before moving on to another color. This sort of challenges me to set aside my free and loose art-brain, and be orderly and systematic, which is in a less readily accessed area of my noggin! Yeah, part of me wants to dash from "red hearts" to "Pink, purple, marigold, rainbow hearts," and just print away with wild artsy abandon. But to do this well, and to be careful with my resources, I need to slow down and plan... the results are satisfying, though!

I think I've talked about this before... each new medium I work with, each new art lesson I absorb, makes me see the world in new ways. With watercolor painting, I saw new colors, and thought about the color wheel, how everything is ratios of burnt sienna and ultramarine blue, or blank. Oil painting made me notice values and forms, shapes. With printmaking and carving, I think about negative space... what is there, and what is not there. I love these fresh ways of seeing the world, of relating to what is before me and how I can interpret it. The Torrey pines at sunset have always been a beautiful sight, and now they give me more to wonder at, and appreciate.

I declared this a Cairo Day. He was being particularly sweet and charming, affectionate. I left him cozy and drowsy in my bed, when I left to take Maria to school, and he was there, still when I returned. Later, he joined me in our attic space, where I have been diligently dusting, sorting, and organizing our books and stuff. I have been super-heroic and kick-ass in this mission... greatly reducing our collection, and dutifully whipping things into shape. Cairo roused himself and came to inspect... which largely involved sleeping on my stacks, visiting the cleared shelves, and moving dust bunnies with his tail. I was happy for the company.

Changing Light - Mon, 09/09/2019 - 13:11
August 30 ::
Two pumpkins came from the sad little sprout I rescued. It was on the discount shelf at the nursery, and I'm glad we brought it home, because once it recovered and settled into the raised bed, it became lovely. It grew and vined itself around, then gave us these 2, fine little pumpkins.

Thanks to some diligent shopping and a lucky bid, Geoff brought home pottery wheels, the kind you kick.

Q: Are we potters?

A: Maybe. We are certainly makers, and curious. Evidently that is good enough reason to jump right in!

William did not wait 2 minutes to jump in and give the wheel its first spin, which I found to be delightful. And considering that he has absolutely no prior experience, I thought he did remarkably well.

For a first try? Really good, I think. I am already placing orders for a Thanksgiving set of bowls and serving dishes.

We gave Darwin a new home on the Blackmith shop wall, where he can oversee our latest manias.

Mom's Night Out, in Janice's home. She fed us like royalty, like dear friends. Karen was in the kitchen with her, and Yanina brought this bread, with a fig spread. We sat outside, talking and eating. Then we sat inside and did more of the same.

And Janice showed me the watercolor painting she bought from Alex, and I love how beautifully she's had it framed. It is one of my favorite paintings of his.

August 31 ::

I imagined a Book Faire, and a Book Faire we had! I feel very accomplished about this. It brought us one step closer to having an orderly attic, we met neighbors, and shared loads and loads of books, which I believe makes the world a better place. Free books, for anyone that came by. The rest were donated. Jola was my effusive companion, and posted a notice on a neighbor app, so more people would take note and come by... and that worked! Plus she kept me company and we got sentimental and nostalgic about our children, good reads, and being friends for 24 years.

There were still plenty of titles when Leslie and Ido came, and I enjoyed reading aloud to Bex, and watching her pick and choose new favorites. When books, and the hot sun became too much, the party moved to the backyard, where Simon applied his ceramics camp knowledge, and got busy trying out our new maker space and equipment.

If you could see the videos! So funny... Spencer eagerly, willingly, was the power at the wheel, and kept things spinning for an hour, or more.

Bex provided her own spinning power, and we had bowls and dishes appearing, one after another!

I'm not sure we were ready to be open for business. Alex figured out that he could adjust the seat, and Geoff is working on leveling the wheel. It was days before I realized that the metal catch attaches beneath the thing... never mind. I don't even know the proper names, but I did add the thing to the thing, and it works better, now. Lol.

Lucky for us, Michelle H. saw some of my Instagram posts, and kindly offered to bring Steve D. over to give us tips and technical support! It will be most welcome!

School began, without much fanfare here on the blog, and that's probably because it kind of knocked us over... for all of us, too sudden, and for Maria, a bit too much! She's got 8 classes to complete in a year; four this semester, then 4 more in the second half of the year. The hard part is that she got all of her tougher academic courses in this first semester. By spring she will be sailing, with easier courses, but for now, it's a rigorous load.

Time to pick the bigger pumpkins. Somebody was noshing on our pumpkins and we lost a couple, and all of the watermelon. I think it was the spray of catmint oil that saved these 5. I used our natural mosquito repellent, covering the pumpkins with a mist, which I hoped would deter the garden thieves... and it worked!

The blacksmith shop got a West World vibe, and we say that the barn is the Midwest.

September 1 ::
We were spoiled by mild weather, all summer long. And then came back to school, and the first of September, and lo! Summer really arrived, finally! And even though it's hotter than ever, the light still suggests a change, and the imminent arrival of fall. Of course the "arrival of fall" has no promise of seasonal fall weather, and we haven't many trees to watch for changing leaves. But we will see signs, and sooner or later we will know that summer is over. Probably later, than soon.

When the goats can get into this end of the run, they will inhale my floral display. Their lips will vacuum each marigold... a happy amusement.

When Maria decided to make a cat-faced pizza, we all joined in the fun. Our friends, Susie and Michael, were over for pizza-making, and we confirmed that making pizzas and watching them heat up in the oven is a totally engrossing pastime.

September 3 ::

September 4 ::

After school, the sky gave a stunning show... clouds that were building and whirling, and churning, so that everyone in the area was posting fantastic pictures, and we were all in suspense... would it rain? I decided to tempt fate, and I put out a blanket and pillow on the lawn. Soon, big drops of rain were falling down. It was brilliant! Max and Maria, then Alex, came running out, squealing... and I stretched out, inhaling the charged air, enjoying each raindrop. What is it about summer rain? Why does it feel so energized, exhilarating?

September 5 ::

I've been learning how to carve stamps. The part that I enjoy most is that I can see the pay-off from my last couple of years of sketching and practicing art. Now, I have my own resources, and material to draw from for stamp designs. Geoff made sure I started with good quality tools, and I am sure that has gone a long way toward making this new activity easier, comfortable. I had thought I would use fabric yardage, and sew articles that I print, but while my sewing machine is out of commission, I found ready made articles to print, and I am in Heaven! Don't let me get cold feet: I want to sell my art, my makings... our motto has been We make, we play we share, and I love this message and philosophy, but we also need to be able to sustain our home and make ends meet, and it's time to see about making our making pay.

September 7 ::
Someone asked about a goat print, and just as I sat down to sketch a little Ada goat... I turned to the garden and saw that my actual goats had escaped! I set my pencil down and went out to see what could be done. Play... that's what. We had a long and fun romp with Ada and Tasha, which largely involved observing Ada eat odd things, like pepper leaves, a very old cucumber, and a corncob.

September 8 ::
This print was a late night inspiration... from the stained glass window in the church in Tacupeto, the Sonoran village, where my Abuela lived. I wanted to make something unique and meaningful for her... a gift for her 100th birthday.

More July & August - Thu, 09/05/2019 - 11:58
July 22 ::

July 23 ::

July 26 ::

July 27 ::

July 28 ::

July 30 ::

August 2 ::
Maria chose a banana and chocolate paleta, when we stopped by Artelexia.

I thought that my quick summation of summer was going to hold, but yesterday, when I awoke to "September," I was stunned. Where did August go? How can we be entering the month of fall, of apples, and fallen leaves, and the actual start of summer? Ugh... this heat!

More August,
I say! July, too.

More memories of a full and active month, of our summer days.

And pardon me if I've shared these already. A note about my thoughts and memory... it's still muddley. I still forget people's faces, the order in which events took place, dates, words. It's still a quiet, internal struggle that I try to hide, try to overcome. I am so concerned and supportive of other people's struggles, issues... and always want them to feel safe and comfortable to be open about whatever they are dealing with. To be fair, open, kind, I need to share some grace with me. I need to drop the shame and awkward embarrassment. I can't stop the feeling of discomfort when I don't recognize someone, or can't seamlessly express my thoughts, but I can talk about the issue and let people know about it, and then at least I may show that I am someone that needs help, that struggles, which hopefully clears away some stigma, makes others feel comfortable to do the same.

And Chickenblog helps me... I can refresh my memory, and make note of moments and ideas, events, and faces, and refer to these pages for happy memories, and to jog memories, too.

So, have I blogged about William's tent dream? He's spent years talking about and planning a kind of carnival-circus-caravan tent, something bohemian and pieced together, fanciful, whimsical. Alex helped him design and construct this PVC frame, and we started assembling the collection of old and thrifted sheets we've been amassing. And Max came out as the sun was setting to help William get the big top up. We need to add the skirt to go around, for walls. Alas... this is one more project sitting on the back burner, until our sewing machine is repaired.

Max... from when his Grandma called, and said, "Take his picture, before he turns 21!"

We have a room called The Lab. It is constantly evolving; revolving mostly around the latest interests and activities of Alex, and Max, and Maria and William. Right now it strongly serves games of DnD and Magic the Gathering. This shelf caught my eye, because for a moment it was unfamiliar, and it was like seeing my children, Alex especially, anew. Their books, and Alex's art, the wings he made, the sword William and Alex made, the shoe forms (a nod to their interest in making clothes, and to their great-grandfather, William, the shoe repairman.) Funny that feeling, and helpful... oh, this is them, now. A part of who they are. And it's nice.

August 3 ::
Happy Birthday~

August 4 ::

(September 5...

Send me back to therapy and counseling. Every time there is a hearing, people say, "It's over. You can put it behind you." But it's not over; that's the truth. There is still another hearing. And the civil case. But, I want it to be over, to put it behind me, so I try to do the things I used to do, like writing, and making art, and gardening, and I tried to let go of physical therapy. And I am hurting... the headache, the anxiety and worry, and shaking hands. And shame. I feel embarrassed, like hiding all of this, because I am so tired of struggling, and not being over it. Damn it. Fucking, damn it all to wee;lkfhqnra.vdfjsdtg

I started this post last week. I can't finish it... writing exhausts me, makes my brain feel feeble and scrambled. My neck and shoulders hurt. That fracking headache at the base of my head, vise-like and squeezing out clarity and peace. And then I think quit, retire, let this space take a chance on a quiet exit. But then it would make me sad, then angry, because all of my effort to be a writer, a blogger that makes a difference, a happy chronicler of our lives, would end with essentially "I gave up when a car wreck made it too hard to do this well." Fucking, damn it all to wee;lkfhqnra.vdfjsdtg And even these admissions and public declarations make me wince and cringe in discomfort, but to hell with that... I am trying to salvage my well being, my sense of worth and ability, and if tapping at a key board and putting to words all the dread and discomfort I am living with might do a single bit of good to help me, then so be it... Open, out loud, cringe-worthy confession and wallowing it shall be.)

August 6 ::

August 7 ::

August 8 ::

August 11 ::

August 12 ::

August 14 ::

August 16 ::

August 17 ::

August 18 ::

August 21 ::

August 22 ::

August 24 ::

August 25 ::

August 26 ::

Almost done. The longest, most rambling, random, and obtuse, yet over-sharing, post ever. That's ok. I feel accomplished... everything has been an uphill push, in the dark, and mud, but I am going to finish this Fucking, damn it all to wee;lkfhqnra.vdfjsdtg post, and win. I don't know what I am winning, but I know I am here. And I will add: Dear Reader, this is what winning looks like. It can be rather pathetic, and meander around, exhibiting frailty, nonsensical behavior, contradictory and paradoxical expressions. No matter, just know that life presents moments we cannot prepare for, and sometimes we get through them without instruction, or rehearsal, and it can look and feel graceless and stupid. Nonetheless, to live, to scream, to cut a line through clay, or read a poem, or smile... this is what winning looks like.

-Natalie, the Chickenblogger
September 5, 2019

August 27 ::

August 29 ::

Progress - Wed, 08/28/2019 - 11:29
Well. I never wanted my blog to morph into a serial courtroom drama, but it helps to sort my thoughts, record the details, and keep interested parties up to date. Yesterday was the sentencing hearing, and I gave a victim's statement. I am glad that I prepared my words, had notes to read from. I've never felt more nervous, nor more determined to be heard, and the combination of those energies is mind-blowing.

My 3 three sons and Geoff came with, and Paul and Janece met us at the courthouse. Never go to court alone, as a victim, or defendant. It's a confusing, stressful, sad, demoralizing place, and it can knock the wind out of you. Sometimes a hand would be on my back, or a voice would reach my ears, and otherwise I felt adrift in a dark vacuum... crowded and loud, intrusive, yet alienating. I am so thankful for my friends and family... the texts, and messages, the ones who checked in with me; you all helped make this something I could step into, and walk away from.

The defendant, the drunkladydriver, has messed up her life terribly, and together with her attorney, she messed things up further... her alcohol monitor gave a positive reading for alcohol, and they seriously pissed off the judge, (honestly, best description) by rattling off contradictory excuses/explanations, and he reminded her that if she cannot manage to follow the rules, and deal with her ankle monitor, then she will go directly to prison. It was intense and I am leaving out a lot. A LOT... but for friends in the area, for our community, I am happy to share, that she is on probation for a minimum of 2 years, that she has a self-reporting alcohol monitor, and she is not allowed to drink. I have held space for her, in my thoughts, in my heart, and I want her to rehabilitate, to recover, but I am completely over how hard she and her attorney have labored to deny responsibility, how they have tried to put the blame on me, the lies, the weaseling around with the law, how they have squandered the mercy the court has shown.

It's not over, yet. Another hearing is scheduled for late October, and that's when the issue of restitutions will be addressed. This is about the criminal case, and covering our out of pocket expenses, reimbursing our insurance. I have no doubt that there will be a fresh layer of bullshit flung in our direction for this, but I am not going to think about that today. That is... I am going to do my level best to clear my thoughts, and breath deeply, recover, rest, regain energy and peace of mind, enjoy that we have crossed another bridge.

Yesterday a concept occurred to me, an idea... very soon, I will close the door on this. I have been as good as I can be, and when it is over, I will be determined and mindful to walk away from all of it, and never think of her again.

Addiction is cruel and I have seen enough of its destructive powers to feel compassion and empathy for anyone suffering under the weight of an illness, of desperation. I have long believed that any stigma or shaming to do with addiction, or any mental health issues, does harm, is counterproductive. I support therapies and rehabilitation to help people cope with, manage, recover, heal, and live their best lives. And I am thankful for the measures that can be taken to protect society and defendants from their own weaknesses.

One More Day - Mon, 08/26/2019 - 09:33
Things are finally moving forward.

On July 15 the judge allowed the defense attorney to subpoena my phone records in the case of California vs drunkladydriver. I wrote about how her attorney was on the hunt for something to make me responsible for the collision... like distracted driving. And when we left the courthouse, they looked quite satisfied that they won some kind of victory, and even though I knew they could find nothing in my mobile phone record to put the blame on me, I felt violated, assaulted, again. And I had to wait 9 days for another hearing; for the judge to hear back from the defendant. 9 days checking myself, second guessing myself, debating whether or not to attend the next hearing, or to spare myself. 9 days in suspense, anxious. Being innocent, the victim, didn't free me from worry, or give me relief from concern. They'd made accusatory suggestions, implied things, and I couldn't be sure they wouldn't fabricate a story, a reason to delay or prolong or muddy things further.

I stuck with my physical therapy, which I really needed. I stuck with mindful breathing, and exercises in rational thinking, reasoning, logic. A person can do a lot to help themselves, to guard themselves against anxiety, panic, torment, and I have been diligent and mindful to do all the healthiest, most helpful things. And I've also learned that anxiety and panic are not particular; they show up, unannounced, uninvited, when they damn well please. It was not an easy week. It became increasingly stressful, so I became increasingly tired, muddled, sad, and pained. I redoubled my efforts, and defenses... in the garden, most of all. I think I tried to ward off dark thoughts with soil, mulch, wood chips, starter packs, native plants, bold flowers, lifting, digging, planting. I built a real place, of make believe hopes, and ideals. I indulged every leafy whim and floral daydream...

Can I say something stupid? That's a rhetorical question, and even as I ask it, I realize that 1. Of course I can say something; it's my blog. 2. I shouldn't say it's "stupid." It's not stupid... it's just true, and maybe hard to understand, hard to live with. Here it is... I hate how my thoughts invariably go back to the collision, to her, to hearings and subpoenas, to a sheriff at our door, to thinking about what to wear to hearings, to feeling old and unsightly, to nightmares, stuttering, the headache, to the need of physical therapy, counseling, to the sheer terror of riding in a car. I hate how badly I write or speak, because it's hard to do. I hate that even good things feel like part of the bad thing, because they are such a deliberate effort and ward against feeling sad, hurting. I hate how much gets tainted, and it feels "stupid" to live in this loop.

Geoff says, "You want to go for a ride?" He adjusts my seat, sets up the battery. He added the side mirror, got rid of the brake squeak. He does everything he can think to do, to clear the path (literal and figurative) so I will go outside, and pedal. It's nothing I ask for or expect, and I whispered, in the dark, "You love me," and it was revelation to me... I saw it plainly, sweetly, as I've never understood before: He loves me. He follows me, and we ride and ride, and I tell him, "Sometimes I forget to be scared, and I feel the cold air on my face and it wakes me up. I feel free and hopeful. It's so new, and good." It's good enough to make me go again, and again, even when it scares me, even when I remember why it's easier to stay home. I can ride 12 miles just going back and forth on our street, but Geoff lures me, a bit further out. Little by little, and sometimes, when I forget being scared, it's wonderful. He came back from a ride with this picture of a rat painted on a storm drain... like a bread crumb. I followed him there.

He painted my fenders purple. I would follow him anywhere.

I decided to skip the hearing. The defendant would either present "evidence" against me, or not and then the judge would decide what should happen next. The D.A. said she would call me. I kept my physical therapy appointment instead... where, laying on the table, I started crying, which was awkward.

On July 24th, in the afternoon, I answered a call from the district attorney, and she said, "She pleaded guilty." She said more than that, and it's not over, yet, but! But, the relief! The mild shock, and strange, disorienting relief. It was, should have been, inevitable, but it took so long, was so hindered and protracted, that even the truth felt doubtful. That night I slept, a distinction from almost every other night since December 6th.

And the next day, I faced all the days that have lead to this day... one more day until the sentencing hearing. Tomorrow I go back, and address the court; a statement, my story. I spent 6 hours writing the written report for the judge... that was awful. But, I need to figure out what I will say tomorrow, too. One more day. That is, one more day of the criminal case... then comes the civil case. Okay... one thing at a time. I am scared, and drained, nervous, a bit nauseous. I feel exhausted from my brain rehearsing everything, imagining what could happen, wondering what should happen. I feel apologetic (That is stupid! Please, please, please, don't let me utter the words "I'm sorry," because I am so inclined to feel responsible for discomfort, for taking anyone's time, for doing anything wrong. Help.)

One more day.

Tomorrow is Maria's first day back to school, and I might not be able to pick her up, and...

Crying. Sorry.

Damn it.