Chicken Blog by Natalie

One Week of Summer - Tue, 08/06/2019 - 10:27
July 8 ::

We have been enjoying a lot about this summer, including mild weather, finishing projects, starting projects, staying close to home, having visitors. And there are, at least, 2 things that may come to represent this summer best... the garden and the bicycles. After renting bicycles on Balboa Island, Geoff was certain... the official 30th wedding anniversary gift would be eBikes from Rad Power Bikes. There is a long list of reasons, and inspiration for us to get on bicycles, and Geoff applied his usual reasoning and research skills to this investment. And now they're here, he's also applying his care and support to getting me out of the house, and peddling (safely, comfortably, gently.) So, if I am not on a bicycle, conquering fears and PTSD, then I am building gardens, housing gnomes, planting new (to me) specimens, and enjoying incredibly generous harvests.

At long last we have apricots! Our old tree needed 10 years of assurance, affection, pruning, coddling, patience, mulch. Maybe our very rainy season is what finally gave the tree what it needed most, because it is full-full-full of fruit! Enough to share. Enough to snack on. Enough to make jars and jars of refrigerator jam. Enough to experiment with... a drizzle of balsamic and seconds on a hot grill. We ate them in less time than it took to heat them up!

Alex made a sauce to drizzle over the roasting corn. It was butter, sake, and soy sauce. It was very good; no surprise. Maybe it's 3 things that are icons of this summer... the bicycles, the garden, and the grill.

July 11 ::

I planted 2 pumpkins in this bed. And are they ever happy! I mean, the growth is almost visible. I could fix a bowl of popcorn and watch these vines crawl out of the bed, across the lawn. We can't wait to see the big blossoms, the plump, green orbs! And on the other end of the goat/chicken divide, I am enlisting the strong arms of my children to help me start another gardening area. My hope is to make pretty shade, before the heatwaves arrive, using planters, native plants, shade cloth... I am just curating from around the yard, any old boxes, tubs, and stumps to create an inviting space. (Don't tell Geoff, but we have it in for his beloved lawn. Not all of it, but a good chunk of it will slowly be encroached upon and taken over by local plants, and raised beds. There will be plenty of open area for running, playing, swinging.)

July 12 ::

The chickens' side of their open barn faces the sunset, and on hot days, it gets pretty bad in their yard, so I'm liking the look of this first round of adding a soft barrier, outside of their space. I think they appreciate the visual interest, too. While we planted the marigolds, the chicas stood on the box and watched our activity.

Then, I finally, put a shade sail to use... I've had it forever, but it was hanging inside their yard, and they would roost on it, like a hammock, and it would get really gross. If you don't know... chickens poop even more in their sleep, than they do during the day, or maybe it seems that way because it all collects just below where they are roosting. I cleaned it up, and Alex helped me get the shade up and over the hardware cloth roof of the barn. It's taut and secure, and making a big area of cool shade for goats and hens. (Not a paid endorsement, but I will share that Coolaroo makes the best shade cloth, and I am using the "sail shade;" it's a big triangle. The one I initially got at the lumberyard was more expensive and totally janky, so Coolaroo, it is. End of ad.)

I am adding echinacea to the Icons of Summer list... So, that's Bicycles, Gardens, Grills, and Echinacea. They remind me of the midwest, where I would see them in gardens, in Minneapolis, in Madison, and Cambridge. They make me nostalgic. I used to think they were a bit too hard, too simple, yet bold. I can't explain what changed for me, but they are making me so happy, so wistful, too. Just looking at them recalls summer storms, and the lovely air and light of a summer day in Wisconsin, and that is beautiful to feel, to revisit, even if only in my mind.

William and Alex were so patient and receptive to all of my gardening ambitions, and they happily obliged me... rolling stumps across the lawn, collecting odds and ends to satisfy my exterior decorating schemes. Alex offered the carving log, and we found it makes a perfect perch for this gnome we have. Funny how an old log can be such a brilliant source of happiness, and industry, for so many years, and it's still appreciated and useful.

July 13 ::

Someone is missing... where did the gnome roam?

Coming in at #5, Icons of Summer, we have: Bunnies! It rained bunnies this spring! They're everywhere. Did you spy the little one in the pumpkin patch? Some get bold and don't bolt when we approach. Sometimes we see 6, at once, dotted all over the yard. They each seem to have a preferred shrub or spot where they dart to and fro. When we set the old log in the new garden area, planted it with succulents and set the gnome in his home, the bunnies were seen visiting the arrangement, and that was quite adorable to watch. But I think they mistreated the gnome.

Remember when we got our act together and taught Maria how to ride a bicycle? It was a late start, and we were so glad (relieved) that she took to it, and the next step was to get her a bike her size, and take her on a real ride. Well. Then stuff happened, and other stuff happened, and as will happen, time passed, and etc, etc, etc... anyways. 3 years later, Maria took her first bicycle ride, and poor thing, it was almost like starting from scratch, but all is well that ends well, because she really has the hang of it, now, and a bike her own size, too.

This is why I love summer... for the time, free from schedules, and demands, free to learn new things, and explore and grow, to be daring, adventurous, silly, to finish projects, and start new ones, to linger over an idea, and stare off into the middle distance, and let things simmer. There is no learning like summer learning... it's sacred, wonderful, good.

The fenders on our bicycles are getting the custom treatment. Geoff's are Rustoleum Marigold, just like our light fixtures, and mine will be Grape. I call Geoff's bicycle The Bee. And I call our entryway, The Bike Shop. We are never going to be featured in Better Homes & Gardens. Oh, and points to Geoff for remembering to put a hat on.

July 14 ::
Natalie, Max, William, Delia, Maria, Alex, Geoff~

We have a visitor! My Mom is so awesome... she's made the very long drive to see us, then my cousins, and my aunt, and my brothers, and then she has all those miles to get back to her Oregon home, but I am getting ahead of myself. She's here, now.

July 15 ::
Max and Chango... Chango, who loves summer, because Max is home, and no one cares for Chango as diligently, and thoughtfully as Max.

To The Moon - Sun, 07/21/2019 - 09:47
July 16 ::

Happiness in the garden.

July 18 ::
The morning we woke up to the terrible news of the KyoAni animation studio attack was hard. In a way, it felt personal, we love anime, Geoff works for a Japanese studio company, Alex and Bambi were in Kyoto, our children and their friends follow many of the series produced by Kyoto Animation, Bambi is studying animation, and has even applied to studios in Japan. It was horrible enough, but the many little ways we relate to and feel connected, make it especially painful. Even in a big world, to places faraway, we want to reach out and extend our sympathy, to say how much we care.

William has been diligently, with meticulous care and attention to details, developing a cosplay mask for Maria... it is San's mask, from Princess Mononoke.

Later, a visit to see Geoff, at his office. Then meeting up with Hans and Gretchen, a dinner out.

July 19 ::
Max is the cat whisperer.

Visiting Mini, the affectionate shop cat.

July 20 :: 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

I daydream about having a Moon Garden, pale and moon-faced flowers that illuminate the garden at night. These dahlias were at the market and I brought them home to honor the Moon Landing anniversary.

And we asked friends over, played President Kennedy's "We choose to go to the Moon" address, and we drank Tang... in spite of Buzz Aldrin's real opinion of the astronaut beverage! Leslie and Ido brought out of this world ice cream treats, and we finished the celebration watching Wallace and Gromit, A Grand Day Out!

I think we stuck our landing! Next up, Mars!

Going Higher - Mon, 07/15/2019 - 19:25
July 15 ::
Today there was a hearing, called by the judge, to decide whether or not to allow the defense to subpoena my phone records. The DA told me I could "object," so I did, and so... it went to hearing.

She sat across from me. The drunkladydriver. She didn't know me. I recognized her, for sure. A court building is a very sad place. That's what I learned. I saw men in chain cuffs, and women crying for their sons, I saw a woman with an ankle bracelet, and a very large party of friends and family with buttons and photo albums. The buttons were a photograph of a young woman, smiling, and everyone was there in her honor, in her memory, looking sad, and determined. I suppose they were there for the sentencing of someone that did something wrong, bad. Most people in the building were in a hurry, or anxious, frustrated, or beleaguered. Everyone looked like they could use a hug. Everyone. The defense attorney whispered in DUI's ear, they both smiled, satisfied with something. And the judge, eventually gave them access to my phone records. They must have been quite pleased, because her attorney has been angling to make me at fault... somehow. I left feeling sad for all the anguish and suffering at the courthouse, and sad for me, because this is all getting drawn out, and ridiculous, and I want to be free. "Next week," the DA explained, "There will be another hearing and the judge will determine whether to proceed with the August 1 trial, where you will testify and be cross-examined." And then we drove home.

I still have nightmares. One thing, really weird... do you ever fall asleep someplace new, like at a relative's, or in a hotel, and when you wake up, it takes a moment to remember where you are? Since the collision, this happens to me every time I wake up. Every time. And for months, it was terrifying. Between the replay nightmares, and waking up next to a stranger, in a place I could not recognize, I didn't want to go to sleep. Even naps, can be hard, waking up panicked, heart racing. I play a lot of solitaire, late into the night.

And... I line my nest with every soft and gentle experience and activity I can, like washing fruit, listening to music, resting on a heating pad, holding my cat, or one of the very ridiculously fluffy pillows I've been gathering. And I sit in the garden. Today, I climbed up into the apricot tree. It's not a very tall tree, but it felt daring, exhilarating. I wanted to be strong, to feel strong, and if I was going to be scared or hurt, I wanted it to be from something real. Does that make sense?

This tree is so full, but all the low fruit is picked, and I don't want the stuff out of reach to be lost. It felt good reach for the ripe apricots, feeling the rough bark on my arms, hoping I wouldn't slip. It felt like a challenge I could face and overcome, and with a tangible, sweet reward.

Below me, the goats and chickens watched, curious and hopeful. Any pieces I dropped were there's.

The morning was awful, honestly. And waiting for next week isn't great either. And I don't profess to be a Pollyanna, or even to possess some infinite inner strength, resolve... but I love Geoff, and I love William, Alex, Max, and Maria. I love our home, and plans, and the bowls in my kitchen. I love that Geoff says, "Go get a massage," and "Draw some rattys." I can climb an apricot tree, and make refrigerator jam, and play solitaire til 1 am. I don't text and drive, and I wasn't at fault, and when this is over, I will feel a lot better... I hope I will feel a whole lot better.

My Grandmother Eunice once talked to me about running water, and how much she could enjoy it, so that if she was unhappy, or even bored with dishwashing, she only had to think about how much she loved the sound and feel of running water, and it put her at ease, made things a little better. I like running water, but what I love is remembering my Grandmother, and her voice, her gentle self, and that makes things a little better for me.

I think that everyone of us could use more love, more compassion, a hug. I wish that the world could be softer, for each of us.

Feed Me Tacos and Tell Me I'm Pretty - Fri, 07/12/2019 - 12:27
All of a sudden we've been married for 30 years. We didn't have our act together to pull off a party, yet the occasion seemed too good to overlook, or postpone. Siri suggested a San Diego spot for a best breakfast, and when we were walking around the Gaslamp, I saw a T-shirt that read "Feed Me Tacos and Tell Me I'm Pretty," and I couldn't think of a better theme for the rest of our 30th anniversary celebration. We walked, explored, talked, discovered, got nostalgic, revisited, and celebrated...

And I got to take pictures of colors and buildings, pretty things, and memorable moments, art, and spaces, which makes me happy. And Geoff did all the driving, while I navigated. There was no agenda, and we could stay out as long as we pleased, and that made me happier, still. It was a good day, and it's been a very good life, marriage, and as we often do on our anniversary, we agreed we should stay together.

As we drove around looking for parking we heard this sudden roar, cheering crowds, big joy erupting from bars and diners. I realized, "World Cup Soccer! I think we must have scored," I declared in an our team, exulting way. And with a happy breakfast crowd, we shared the last 15 minutes of the final, and USA's awesome win.

We walked before breakfast, and we walked after breakfast... all over the Gaslamp. On Sundays there's an Artisan Market, which was fun to see. A favorite discovery included meeting the artist for Circles and Squares, David B. Cuzick. He's the one that created my power shirt, Fierce.

From the Gaslamp, we headed north to Hillcrest and Artist and Craftsman, where Geoff helped me stock up on materials... I'm enrolled in a new art class, this one online. It starts in August, but it was fun to do this necessary errand with Geoff, because he helps me make good choices, and he gets enthused about new projects, tools, making!

Next stop, North Park. We make a good team, Geoff and I. He doesn't get discouraged about finding parking, and as long as I can give directions, he's game to head anywhere. We walked around North Park, popping into shops. We grew up in San Diego, mostly, but it's a big county, and it's been a while since we've been back to some of these neighborhoods. And also... we are old. lol. Styles and hip things, succulent shops, fiddle figs, and "cool things" are all new to us. When did white plastered stuff trimmed in gold paint become all the rage? We gotta get out more.

Inspired by what's new and our discoveries, I decided to ask "Where is South Park?" And we drove there, and I gotta say, South Park is charming! And after we paid that visit, I remembered our theme: Feed me tacos. So we headed to Barrio Logan, and Salud Tacos.

Chicano Park. My Mom worked in offices here, and this was where my brothers and I would spend time, out of school, on weekends. I remember Chicano Park Days, in the 70's, the struggle to preserve the land for the neighborhood, for the Park. We even got to be artists, painting the low walls around the playground. By the end of grade school, when I had to choose where I would bus to middle school, and it was a big turning point for me, for who I would become. In the end, we moved further away from the Barrio Logan, and Chicano Park. Going back reminded me of places, people and events that had been formative in our lives.

It made me emotional to see how much was the same, familiar, nostalgic. And it made me very happy to see improvements, growth, resilience and promise, too. Keeping traditions, respecting the past and staying viable, progressing... these are hard won achievements for any community.

I am always tender and sentimental about places I knew. We moved around a lot, and there's never been a family home, a destination that we all know, where we've always gathered, and I am sometimes a bit taken aback by how a street, or town, a place in the woods, or roadside attraction can feel like going home. It can make me very emotional, homesick. It's unreasonable, I realize, but I look for signs, for hints that we were there, hoping that we are remembered, wishing to be recognized, claimed. I would so dearly love to see a picture of me, with my brothers, sitting on the concrete, painting the playground walls, our dog Chichi on her leash.

Soy del tipo de mujer que si quiero la luna, me la bajo yo solita. Frida Kahlo. Painting by Evgeniya Golik.

La Bodega Gallery had the most exceptional exhibit of art, inspired by Frida Kahlo, that I have ever seen. It was refreshing to see original concepts, and insightful homage, and I especially appreciated art, like Emilia Cruz's self-portrait, that evoked the spirit and candor of Frida, without reducing her to a commercial, cheapened cliche, creating something new, something personal, and beautiful.

Ohmygoodness... I haven't had this particular pleasure since last year! When Robin and Sean had Salud Tacos cater a company party, and the churros with Tajin undid me, for life!

Something sweet to toast our wedded bliss!

Fierce :: Fake It Til You Make It - Thu, 07/11/2019 - 10:50

Summer cooking. Summer cooking is sleepover breakfast, late and hearty, made with friends. It's fresh from the garden, right off the tree. Summer cooking is potluck, open house, outdoors, open flames, fresh, novel.

Thank you, Charles and Diana, for the Roccbox! (hearts hearts hearts) I think all of my writing, these days, is emoticons, and I want to fill this page with effusive smily faces and blowing kisses to our friends for their generosity and thoughtfulness. Charles is retiring his catering business, and he kindly let us take over one of his pizza ovens. It's so brilliant and awesome! We have forever to master the art of pizza oven cooking, which is tasty tasty work, and we love it. The bonus to all of this is that Charles and Diana can, of course, borrow the Box anytime.

When we met the artist that makes this shirt, he said it's called Fierce, and it's about faking it until you make it, even when you feel small and shaky, like you're teetering, on stilts. I guess the bear is the foe, but sometimes I see it as I am the bear, me and California against something posturing, and weak, someone who wants to take me down. I think I need to remember that I can be the bear, I have the real ferocity to face obstacles and trauma. And I can also hang in there and fake it til I make it, even if I feel small and vulnerable against indomitable foes. The duality speaks to me. The notorious RBG, and Kiki, speak to me. I am rallying all of my crew, and forces, to be fierce, to stand in courage, that I may or may not feel or recognize.

A is For Apple~B is For Boat - Sun, 06/30/2019 - 21:00
June 27 ::

We are sticking close to home this summer, and to ensure that we don't get too laid back, we made a list of things we can do, want to do, need to do, and hope to do, and it includes sharing our apples, trying out electric bikes, visiting fun places, and having friends over to play. So far, we are off to a very good start.

Since 3 of our apple trees are full of fruit, and it's more than we can consume, we had a few friends over to share in the bounty... And as so often happens when we have friends over, it felt like we received more than we gave.
Anna got to meet the goats, and introducing these two to new friends is always fun.

Also fun... introducing the swing to new friends! Leanne approves, I think!

Carol and Grace~

Maria and Amira~

Alex V~

Leslie and Ido brought this beautiful honey, still capped in its comb, to enjoy with the apples. Such a delicate and lovely flavor.

And this veggie curry... had to capture these colors!

Leanne and Eric came with a gorgeous loaf of Dutch Oven Bread... the no knead recipe, and Leanne adds rosemary. I love love love this recipe, and everyone loved Leanne's rosemary version.

Diana, Carol, Natalie, Janece~

June 28 ::

June 29 ::

Geoff has been thinking about bicycles, electric bicycles, particularly. And when Geoff thinks of something, it's always followed by research, then deep research, and that's what lead us to Newport Beach to rent a couple of electric bicycles, particularly Rad Power Bikes, which we could take for a test drive at Sports Rents LLC. (Not paid sponsorships... just happy to share both places, as we enjoyed the rental service, and like what we've seen with Rad Power Bikes.)

Right across the bridge, on Balboa Island, we find Sports Rents, and are checking out the Rad Power Bikes they rent. Newport Beach has great bike trails, and beautiful scenery... this research is turning into a fun family outing.

Alex and Bambi joined us from Fullerton. The day is getting better and better!

Liam, at Sports Rents LLC suggested Back Bay Loop Trail, and it was a beautiful, and safe, place for us to take turns test riding the two bikes we rented.

After riding, we left Balboa Island by Ferry, to see about renting a boat, and by this time we were in touch with Leslie and Ido, who were coming up to the area for their own weekend getaway! Any chance we can meet up, and have a boating adventure?

Spencer and Simon, come aboard! Our top cruising speed will be 5mph!

Despite the crowds, last minute daring, and spontaneity, we managed to rent a boat, large enough for 12... and meet up with Leslie, Ido, Simon, Bex and Spencer! Renting a little boat to putter around Newport Harbor is something we have done 2 or 3 times, and the last time we made this adventure we LOVED it, and were certain we would be back real soon: Care to guess how long that took? We let 7 years go by before coming back to enjoy this fun, and easy, adventure!

Welcome aboard, Ido and Bex!

Bex, Leslie, and our captain, Geoff.

Uh... after viewing many homes, this one is absolutely my harbor side dream house... the sign reads "Hickory Dickory..." As in "Hickory Dickory Dock!" Pun, and mouse references, deem this fate. I will reside here, on holidays, and draw my ratty-rats and mice. You're all invited to putter over in your boats and kayaks, and we will jump from the dock, and sleep beneath the trees.

A is For Apple, B is For Boat, and Summer is for friends sharing dreams, adventures, treats, and love.

MidSummer - Tue, 06/25/2019 - 12:39
The blackberries surprised me. Sure, I planted them, years ago, but now they're all entwined and hidden in the deep green passion vine. In Oregon, my mom reports that the blackberries are still only blossoms, which is just right. I think of her blackberries in August, September. I don't know if we can make it to Oregon this year, but it makes me happy thinking that it's possible, and that we can enjoy the treats at the beginning of summer, and again at the end. As it is, we are spoilt, with peaches, blackberries, even apples, and apricots coming soon! The passion fruit won't be too far behind. And each new year, here in our Bird House, I feel surprised and thankful, because this home is so good to us.

It's summer, and we've had solstice, and lovely signs of all the goodness a rainy winter and spring can bring. Out in the world I hear all the murmurings of May Gray, and June Gloom fatigue. Most people have had enough of our season of overcast and mist, of cool mornings. Summer is slow to warm up along the coast. I smile quietly to myself, and think how nice it is that we don't have to launch straight into heat and glaring light. Soon enough, I think. Soon enough we will have hot days, and nights, and plenty of sunshine, and a summer that will linger well into October. I can wait.

I think when the sun does appear, these will ripen in an instant! When the apricots are ready to pick, I am inviting friends over to harvest and enjoy them with us. Right now, I can easily declare that I would be thrilled to live all summer long on chips with garden salsa and avocados, and apricots on toast!

Happy Summer, friends... I hope yours is coming around nicely.

Summer, But First A Maker Faire - Mon, 06/17/2019 - 11:12
June 12 ::
They're home. Alex and Bambi are back from Japan. Their luggage is full of gifts and treats, and they've been awake for more than 24 hours, and Alex has had 2 days of his birthday. We met them at the train station. They rode the metro from Union Station in Los Angeles, and... and I don't know why I am fussing over details like those, when what I really want is to write about how fast time passes, how much I love being a mom, and having these children (adults, young people, my family). It's too hard to describe... the bittersweet, the gratitude for our time and all the goodness, the certainty that time will only seem to move faster, and faster, even as I try to hold on to every moment and glance.

June 13 ::

Look! Peaches! Our tree makes a few more each year. And I love them. I am going to Google and see if there are summer poems about peaches. I am thinking of the one about plums... This Is Just To Say...

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold
~William Carlos Williams
June 14 ::
Yes, it is a certainty that time is moving faster, and a first day of school is soon followed by a last day. I don't want to think about the next three years, only today, and the first weeks of summer when we will feel like time is a wide and winding path, open and beckoning.

June 15 :: North County Mini Maker Faire
With grace and humor, Maria would count how many days were left of school and getting up early, and being very busy with homework, assignments, responsibilities, and then she would add the 2 extra days of rising early and working hard, because I had applied for us to exhibit at Maker Faire! Sorry! She would assure me that it was ok, that our Make activities, and even getting up early on the first weekend of summer would be bearable, and worthwhile. And so... the first day of summer, even the last day of school, we were very busy preparing for, and exhibiting at a Maker Faire.

Paul~ He is a friend and champion of Mechathulu, our frequently evolving robot beast.

Alex~ He brought his newest tent, with the temporary covering that I whipped up for the occasion.

Paul and Maria~ Maker Faire is all about making and sharing, but none is possible without good friends.

Simon, and his family, are here with Junkade.

Besides Mechathulu, we also brought the Infernal Percussion Engine, a glockenspiel that plays, powered with a bicycle pump!

Our robots are favorites with visitors, because we hand over the controls! And maybe you noticed? FIRST 2102 Team Paradox is at their first North County Mini Maker Faire... great outreach, Paradoxians!

Bex is a natural with needle felting, and she only got better! I love her chicken, and when she started a taco-cat, I had to make one, too.

Alex shared his woodworking art, and introduced robots.

William and Geoff have been making a lot of new experiments with resin 3d printing, mold making, developing metal alloys, and casting.

Maria and I had our hands full with our hands-on activity... teaching needle felting at a faire, to all ages and skill levels is a big undertaking! Bex was a quick-study and we soon had her help, too.

Michael, Darlene, Seth, Gary, and David~

Simon and Geoff~

FIRST 2120 Team Paradox's newly elected president of outreach can solder! Great seeing you at Maker Faire, Natalie!

William and I solder our own Makey Makes, too. And we hope these won't be our last... I am too sad to talk about this, just yet.

Gary, David, Michael~

Ido and Matt talk programming and 3d printing programmable robots.

Lucas and those clever little diy robots.

Here is something awesome... Maria's art and design, 3D modeled by William, and then cast in our own alloy of bismuth and tin. That's a Parrot Ox... Paradox!

Mike, Geoff and William talking about casting metal, and our own alloy mix, which we are calling BoomNerdium.

A nice thing about exhibiting a tent at a faire, is having a place where you can duck out for a bit.

And after the faire closes for the day, and we've secured our gear, we can treat ourselves to good eats and great company.

June 16 :: Day 2 at The Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum and Mini Maker Faire, on Father's Day
Before the gates open the makers have a chance to visit and enjoy each others' exhibits, and this morning concert with Bruce Thompson was one of my favorite times of the day. He took requests, and shared back stories about the music. It was beautiful.

Leslie and Bex got an introduction to Geoff and William's casting projects.

James< too, got to see firsthand what we have been up to lately. And we continued our discussion about the future of Maker Faire and our hopes and ideas, going forward.

One of the skills that goes well with needle felting is hand sewing and embroidery, and since it was a quiet morning, I had time and focus for teaching a couple of children how to sew little felt pockets and bags.

Maria has been exhibiting at Maker Faires since 2011, when she taught wet felting in San Mateo. This year she was very happy to exhibit something personal and all her own... her projects she made at home, and at school, in her metals class. The Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum has an awesome blacksmithing barn, and so there were plenty of makers and visitors to appreciate and admire her skills in metal working.

Doctor Artemus Peepers... aka Dean LeCrone (IG @deanlecrone)

Lucas, who we've met at Scratch Day, and Ido, the Junkade master... we're basically just hanging out with our friends, enjoying a nerdy Father's Day.

More samples of William and Geoff's projects with modeling, photogrammetry, resin printing, casting. It's all learning, making, playing, failing, trying again, and sharing!

And making new friends! Sitting across from Sawyer Cigar Box Guitars was lovely, because we were hearing little concerts all day.

Look who's here for some Father's Day fun... Paul and Amira. Another kind of making that's great at this event is definitely the food, like this roasted corn, and the corn bread they made in the wood burning oven from the corn they milled on site. We love all the making!

TACOCAT... thank you, Bex! Thank you AGSEM and San Diego Maker's Guild! Thank you, Maker Faire, for dreaming all of this up in the first place. Thank you, BOoMNerds, and all of our maker friends and family. Good things are better shared, and we love to make, play, and share.

Cat, Bunnies, Flowers, Friends - Wed, 06/12/2019 - 20:00
June 8 :: Paradox End of Year Party and Awards

The newly-elected team president is Katie K., and her family hosted an end of year party for the robotics team. It's always an emotional event... these students, and the mentors, bring so much heart and dedication to everything. "Everything" includes designing and building a competitive robot, wiring, and programming it, driving it, bringing it to competitions, planning events, mentoring other teams, and other leagues, finding sponsors, writing grants, organizing outreach events, keeping a budget, teaching new members, and strengthening the future of the team with practical lessons and fun. By the end of the year, or four years for the graduating seniors, the team is a family, and everyone feels proud, for what's been accomplished, and enthused for the new seasons ahead.

June 9 ::
When this picture came through from Japan, I think we all screamed with delight! Alex and Bambi have been seeing quite a few friends on the trip, but this is extra! Grant! He lives in Tokyo, and works as a teacher. Last August he brought some of his students here, to the Bird House. And now, Alex and Bambi are visiting him, in his... Nose House. That is his Halloween costume, actually.

What do you give the California guy who has everything? You bring him a taste of home! We should see about getting him regular deliveries of El Nopalito chips and salsa, because Grant will be in Japan until he's finished his master's degree.

Here's where I just stick in a picture of a chicken... to try and distract us from missing Grant.

Here's where I stick in a picture of my garden gone all to heck... to keep it real. After months of postcard beauty from this dear garden, it finally expired, seemingly overnight! And I started to clear it out, but didn't get too far. Have I mentioned my broken finger? Yeah... goats can bite, if you stick your hand in their mouth while they are eating. There's a story here.

June 10 :: The Cats, a Picture Essay, in 3 Hours

June 11 ::
We have become a bunny sanctuary. They're everywhere. If there's something terribly reckless about letting bunnies multiply and run all over the yard (because these days there's something terrible with just about anything,) please don't mention it. I want to see the world as a happy, hoppy, blissful bunny sanctuary.

Just bunnies, and whispy clouds over happy homes, and flowers. Lots and lots of flowers.

With help, the bed was cleared, and now fresh starts are tucked in. Corn, green beans, cucumbers, peppers, and lots and lots of flowers.

(This post was back-blogged on July 2, 2019.)

June Views - Sat, 06/08/2019 - 11:23
June 1 ::
As much as I could, I squared the pieced "squares," then bordered them with the blue sash. Now what? I've got a quilt top, but the fabric is so worn and thin, it will never do for an actual quilt. Maybe it can be a window covering in our barn... maybe I shouldn't have put so much time and effort into this. So... a silver lining? I got some sewing and squaring practice, a little re-familiarizing myself with piecing, and my machine. Darn... trying to look for the positive has actually only reminded me that I think my Janome is need of a serious tune-up, or even an up-grade. It sounds like it's sewing over sticky sandpaper.

June 2 ::

Emma Thompson~
If I need a break from thinking about... anything, the answer is Chicken Time.


Here comes Pepper, or Pippi.

June 4 ::

My Honey Lavender tea comes with words of wisdom... and my cat appears with comic timing.

June 5 ::

The travelers, in Hokkaido... Noboribetsu.

There are only 9 days until the end of this first year of high school. (Can you see Cairo? He's watching Maria from the porch.)

June 6 ::

June 7 :: Happy Birthday, Mom!

Geoff and I had time together before bringing Max home from his last class of his junior year. We walked from the Glider Port, at Torrey Pines. We enjoyed the beauty of the bluffs and view, the wildflowers. And I tried to remember all I could from when my Mom was the UCSD student, when we lived in family housing, and would walk down to the beach from up here. After we picked up Max, we went to lunch, and admired the koi near Geoff's office.

June 8 ::

(This post was back-blogged on July 2, 2019.)

May 32nd MNO - Sat, 06/01/2019 - 23:00
May ended too soon, so we gave it one more day...
Maria B is our host for tonight's Mom's Night Out. When was the last time I shared about these women, my long time friends? Ah, almost a year ago, when Fred was visiting, and he took a picture of (most) of us. Something about these pictures reminds me of the time when my Maria and I were driving home from MNO, when Linda hosted, and Maria was asking about each of my friends... that was 11 years ago!

This was the point in the evening, after the amazing dinner and beautiful fruit tart, when we had our phones out to take notes... book notes. Everyone had reading suggestions, and maybe programming suggestions for tv shows, movies. We were writing things down, then passing some around to share pictures. And laughing. Always laughing. We've been getting together since 1996, when Belinda started us on a monthly dinner, each Mom hosting once a year. We started, and we never stopped.

I have her carrot-cake recipe. My favorite. But... did she get it from B? I can't remember. Now, I feel like I should share something sweet or memorable about each of the Moms, but no. I'll just say this... we have shared hearts, and heartaches, recipes, rides, recommendations, and time, and it has been one of the dearest gifts of my life.

Jola and Belinda~
I've known some of these women longer than 23 years. Jola and I met back when she and Geoff worked together... maybe 1984, the ISSCO anniversary party? Certainly by 1994, when Alex was born. And six months after Alex was born, B was the first new neighbor we met when we moved to this part of the county... that was a fortuitous move and meeting!

Yanina has the selfie knack! That's Jola, B, Anne, Linda, Maria, Vera, Karen, me and Janice! LMNOP

(This post was back-blogged on July 1, 2019.)

End Of May Already - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 20:00
May 23 ::
Hello, Cairo. Anna B and I are going out for lunch... I am looking forward to hearing about travel plans she and Fred are making. I love Fred and Anne's travels, their photographs, and just thinking of them off on another adventure.

As my sweet-peas fade, a beautiful bouquet arrives from Carol's garden, and a new color, too! These came from the seeds I shared with her. I am delighted that hers, and ours, have reseeded themselves, and are growing in succession.

We are still unpacking and resettling since the remodel and repairs to the house. My toys have been sitting in the hall, outside my bedroom, waiting for me. And, happily, I find that I am thinking of them again. It's been hard to see everything, to be able to address and manage even things that I love (since the accident.) Recently, I am finding a little more capacity, and that's good, but it also makes me sad, because I am aware of how neglected things are, how far behind I am, how much simple things have been a struggle to cope with.

May 24 ::
Aloe in bloom.

And speaking of off on another adventure... Alex and Bambi, going over their to-do list, in preparation for their trip to Japan. Bambi has been once before, with school, and this will be Alex's first visit. They both studied Japanese in high school, like Maria is doing, now. It's such a good program... it seems like taking the class means visiting Japan is almost inevitable., and even working or continuing studies there is likely. For now, I am pretty sure Alex and Bambi's visit is just for seeing friends and sights.

May 25 ::

The new window gives a nice clear view of the sparrows that sit (and torment) on the gutter's edge.

May 26 ::

Alex, Gordon, and Bambi... Sayonara!

Maria spent a couple of secretive days in the workshop, and when she was done, she had a gift for me... the copper rose wreath. She made it from the lessons she's been learning in metals, including braze welding, which is something like soldering. It's luminous! And I love how she's taken to her class, the different skills she's acquired. Her gift left me speechless.

May 27 :: Waiting to hear the travelers landed safely, and taking lots of goat pictures.
Hay tower!

May 28 ::
Hey, Tower!

They did land safely. And we started getting lots of great pictures, too.

May 29 ::
My favorite pictures were of the 2 of them.

Every new image that came to our phones brought happy exclamations, and sometimes a happy announcement, "New pictures! Check it out!" And Maria, especially, would frequently sigh wistfully, or declare confidently, "I can't wait to go to Japan!"

May 30 ::
Chango. He's frailer, and frailer, and yet he moves, goes up and down the stairs, loves his treats, and seems determined to live his best life.

In Japan, even the manhole covers are beautiful.

May 31 ::

Still, Quilt Piecing Season, and now I am trying to square and finish these second-hand squares I brought home. They're thin and wonky, and really, I am not sure what possessed me to tackle such a frustrating task. They made me sad, seeing them orphaned and alone, unfinished. I've always felt a kindred spirit with other women that sew, and I feel like there is an understanding that we hope our work will be recognized, appreciated, and if necessary finished, if we cannot complete them ourselves.

All this month, Maria and I have been counting down the days until the end of school, and it's felt like so long! She counted the days without weekends, she considered any holidays or half-days, or special days, but it always felt like summer and freedom were still ages away. But suddenly, and she agrees with me on this... suddenly, it feels like the end of school is coming very soon. Here it is the end of May, and only 2 weeks of school and friends, classes, and activities, and freshman year. The realization of senior friends graduating, going away, of friends that won't be around much over summer, favorite teachers retiring, moving on, of all the familiar things about to change, again, and now maybe it's too soon.

(This post was back-blogged on July 1, 2019.)

Peony Season - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 12:40
May 15 ::

I am wondering what defines a "season." Of course we have our seasons of the year... summer, fall, winter and spring. But just now I feel like making a point of recognizing more seasons. Sadly, we have started acknowledging Fire season, with those increasingly larger and more frequent fires we suffer in the West. But, no... I am thinking of watermelon season, when nearly any melon will be crisp and sweet, beach season, when the tourists have left but we are still having hot days, warm water, and plenty of daylight. Lilac season is fleeting and beautiful. Peony season, for us, depends on our Trader Joes bringing in regular shipments of these gorgeous blossoms, and we treat ourselves almost every week, maybe for an entire month.

May 16 ::

I want it to always be swing season, and kitty time, and art making season.

May 17 ::

Our teacher asked us to photograph each of our finished assignments, to email those to her. Our last day of oil painting class is coming up, and our works will be critiqued. I don't know if I will ever feel as comfortable with oil paints as I got with watercolors, but... objectively, and self-critically, I can admit that I learned a lot, and perhaps, it even shows in my paintings.

Quality time with Masaccio, while his family celebrates Andy's graduation from Boston College.

May 18 ::
Here they are, the five large paintings I completed for my first oil painting class. (Do I say "oil painting" too much? Sorry, if I do, but it's necessary. It was a challenging class, with layers and weight, with a burden that compels me to say "oil painting" just to convey the force and substance of the experience. I say this in a serious tone, but winking.)

May 19 ::
When the first petals fell, I was even more deeply infatuated with Peony Season. And I let them stay, and sighed every time I walked by them, thinking, Even as they fade, they are too beautiful to sweep away.

Masaccio and Paper Sack Season. He is deeply infatuated.

May 20 ::
The moon being brilliant, even through the lens of a cell phone camera.

May 22 ::

I think because my oil paints were put away, and the class finished, I felt the wide open and clear calendar space, mental and emotional liberty... and so I started rummaging through storage bins of old and unfinished projects, works in progress. I pulled out pieces that are at least 12 years old, and I think I just initiated Quilt Piecing Season.

(This post was back-blogged on June 30, 2019.)

The New Trail - Sun, 05/12/2019 - 19:00
May 10 :: Walking the New Rail Trail

May 11 :: Global Scratch Day
Bo, Bella, Emma, Doug and Maria~

Ido, Global Scratch Day Organizer for San Diego, and James with San Diego Makers Guild, and Haddington Dynamics.

This year, Maria is teaching 2 vector illustration classes.

Scratch Day 2018.
Scratch Day 2017.


Rezah and Stephen, more of our great Scratch team.

Natalie and Bex, seriously.

Leslie, Ido's able and ready partner~

Natalie and Reza, not so seriously.

James and Geoff~

May 12 :: Mother's Day
Happy Mother's Day, Ruth~

Everyone feels celebrated when Ruth brings her lemon dessert.

(This post was back-blogged on June 30, 2019.)

Recently... - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 09:31
May 5~

In some ways it feels as though I've been time traveling, and not just in blog posts, but in life. Am I alone? Is anyone astounded that it is May? the other day, I resolved to do something to mark Easter, when I remembered that day has come, and gone. It's May. We have firmly established that it is spring, and Maria is counting how many Mondays of school are remaining. Max has already had mid-terms for his last quarter of his junior year. Geoff is through with crunch-time and the spring training deadline, and onto new projects and goals. William and I agreed, we should open the calendars to mark days, make plans, and ready ourselves for summer, for liberty, destinations, activities, excursions. Alex and Bambi are sharing a countdown, too, and soon they will be done with another semester of classes, and in Japan.

Even my own class will be over, soon, and so I am finishing oil paintings. Have I mentioned? I am in a beginning oil painting class? It started in January, no... it began in February. That seems a long way back, somehow. I am feeling sophomoric about oil painting. Finally, I am developing an understanding of how all the steps come together to complete a painting. The lessons and techniques make sense in a mechanical, rote sense, so at least I know what I am meant to do. But, knowing all of that makes executing the plan almost as hard as knowing nothing at all. It comes to practice, now, I suppose. I need so much more practice, and more than that, and so on.

My physical therapist has become a partner in my art. I see her twice a week, and she helps me recover, relearn, restore. I've learned exercises, means of managing my time and activities, so that I don't slip back into pain, and contortion, as much. Really, without her, I wouldn't be blogging, or painting, driving, making plans. When she works on my neck and shoulders, she knows whether I've been painting, in the garden, or just carrying around worry and aggravation. (Worry and aggravation... My countdown is for the trial, the State of California vs Drunk Lady Driver, and now that I've been subpoenaed and questioned by her attorney, a suited predator with all the appeal of a tick, I am prepared, like a cat, staring into the dark, tense, still, waiting... ready, yet vulnerable.)

I must remember to breath.

Breath, and paint, and walk, and watch for birds, learn their songs. The western bluebirds are back nesting in the birdhouse that hangs from the jacaranda. We watch them, the pair, fly back and forth to the nest, with food for the peeping babies. I wish we could see the babies, too. The father bird is such a blue, brilliant, and fanciful. The mother, wide-eyed and vigilant, seems tireless in her care. They are such a darling couple, a true set.

Cairo is watching birds, too. He has our balcony, now screened, and I've made perches for him, so he can look out, watch. Cairo and Chango keep me company there. As long as we have this spring weather, not too cold, nor windy, nor wet, then I can paint on the balcony. It's become a cat's nest and studio.
In fact, it's so comfortable I almost don't dread the heat of late summer. I like to suppose that with all the windows and doors open, we will have breezes and cross ventilation, and summer will be only hot and bright, not scorching and mad.

May 6~

Yes, like time traveling. I look at these pictures, reminders of changes we've made, improvements, projects completed. We've been so immersed in all of our undertakings, and now the sawdust is settling, the paint drying, and I look around and feel a bit astounded, wondering when did all of this happen? Well, it all happened recently. And, as easy as pie, our Bird House is a Blue Bird House! At last it is painted, and it only took 5 years... laugh out loud, and totally worth it.

William, on our calendars, let's make a note about harvesting apples and apricots. Maybe we should plan a garden party. We can invite friends over to pick fruit and make preserves, and pies. All for sharing.

So much has happened recently, and there is more to look forward to. My thoughts and intentions are traveling back in time, and forward, and for the present, there is much to do...

Swing Into May - Sun, 05/05/2019 - 08:49
April 26 ::

We left our swing... just a frame, back in January. It's time to make some progress.

We have many ideas for different seat options, configurations, and designs. For now, it will be a classic wood seat, heavy, sturdy, roomy. William is shaping and smoothing the wood.


Also, Mako.

April 27 ::






My Christmas present... and a dream come true. A swing so big that even a grown person will feel six years old.

April 28 ::

Here are Charles and Akira... as much fun as swinging, is sharing the swing with friends.

Preparing a Green Man for Beltane.

April 29 ::

April 30 ::

May 1 ::

What sweeter way to welcome this new month, than with lilacs, so rare and beautiful.

May 2 ::

Alex's watercolor entry in the student gallery.

My first entry into a show, this watercolor painting of the farmhouse (Highland House) that we had the pleasure of renting on a visit to Wisconsin. It was surrounded by barns, and outbuildings, and hundred acres of land, open for exploring.

May 4 ::

The mama bluebird about to pop in on her chicks.

Alex, William, Tori, Geoff, Max, Lucas, and Maria~

Janece, Amira and Maria, Paul, William, Lucas, Geoff, Max and Alex, Tori and Bambi, Luna, and Mike~

(This post was back-blogged June 30, 2019.)