Monday, March 15, 2010

Funniest Great White Chicken With Dreadlocks


Yes, the "funniest," "great white" "chicken" with "dreadlocks" was reportedly seen wearing "snake stomping boots" at the "Chicken Blog Worst Mommy Blogging Contest." Anyone feverishly searching for these key phrases may, or may not, have found everything they were looking for here, at Chickenblog.

Other key phrase searches include:

"Star Wars Lego People"
"Chicken Polish" ( the breed, I hope, and not a cleaning product)
"Fall and Can't Get Up"
"Fairies"
and "Sparkle Me Clean"


I think anyone searching for "dreadlocks" or "sparkle me clean" had to have left sorely disappointed.

Have you guessed? I decided to dance around in the blog stats... a mine field of ego crushing numbers and facts related to how many people read the blog, where they come from, what they like, and what they were actually looking for.



Staying Long?
No wonder there are so few comments. 83.3% of visitors to Chickenblog stay less than 30 seconds.
I guess it doesn't take long to figure out that I am not going to help anyone 'sparkle clean.'

Building a TreeHouse?
Oh. I bet people are hoping to get treehouse tips, not realizing that these posts are about our days renting a house that was surrounded by trees, where we felt like we were living perched in a treehouse.
Sad note... the landlord built his Tuscan dream home there and took out every single beautiful, mature, lovely tree. It looks like somebody dropped stucco on Isengard.

Chcieken
Huh?
Just kidding. I could never harass someone for misspelling chcieken. I misspell chieken every single time. Ironic, don't you think? So, if you are looking for chieken, then welcome!

Dude, change your thesis.
Who was trying to score information for their term paper?
"... related studies and literature of a roasted chicken and who discovered the roasted chicken"
Let me help... I may have a few servings of Roasted Chicken literature:

Shakespeared: From roasted chickens we desire increase,
That thereby dinner's rose might never die...

John Rooster Milton: A good roast chicken is the precious lifeblood of a blogger spirit.

Mary Hen Shelley: It is a farce to call any roast chicken virtuous whose virtues do not result from the exercise of its own seasonings.

Shockingly, there are very, very, very few people who come around Chickenblog looking for information on robotics, or building robotics, robotic competitions, or what to wear to a robotic competition, or how to get to a FRC.

Why Tuesday?
This post might not be read by anyone. Tuesdays are the busiest days, with the most visits to Chckinblog Chickenblog.


Maria wrote her name. I do not know who wrote the quote, but I find it applicable and comforting.

I'll see you tomorrow.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Present Time


I am opening boxes that have been packed and stored since the Summer of 2003. Even when we were settled in at our Rancho, it only lasted about three months, before we were back in boxes again. The net results are as follows:

We have at least three of any given household item. In the case of glue, we have about a dozen bottles, but I still had to run to the dollar store and add another bottle to our (missing) collection. We have dishes I do not remember buying. I found our breadmaker. We bought that as a moving consolation in 1994. We have more than one Scrabble set and several humidifiers.

UNpacking our things is both familiar and routine, and also like a surprise party with presents. w00ts! When did we get Champagne glasses? Why did we get Champagne glasses? Are these Champagne glasses ours?

The other night Max was looking for something new to read, and I realized that our books are actually 70% gathered in the same room, so I grabbed a flashlight and went to the library. Library. tee hee... me talk fancy. So I broke in to one box and found twenty-five years of SIGGRAPH journals. Then I peeled ancient tape from another box and hit pay dirt. Still tied together by red Christmas ribbon, three books sent by uncle Paul. I do not know when, but presumably a long time ago, he sent his books, favorites from a series his mother read aloud to him and Joel when they were small boys. Such a sweet gift, the loan of his childhood treasures for his nephews to enjoy. Thank you Paul.

I know. It raises some issues. Why were they still tied in their ribbon? How long did they languish in the dark? How many trips did they make from town to country and back again? Didn't anybody read them and love them and enjoy the kindness of the man sharing them?

I hang my head in shame.
I wince. Audibly.
But you gotta know, it is what happens when you pack and move and move and pack, and commute and relocate, when you pursue a dream and postpone gratification...
Things get left behind and stored for later, and later, well, sometimes it comes much later than we ever imagined. Sometimes later comes painfully late. It's not ideal, but we've been fortunate. Sure, there's been disappointment and collateral damages, but when we arrive at a place that sits to greet the rising sun and nurtures pine trees and flowers, when we want to read a new book and can find something wonderful in our very own library, then I have to say: We are fortunate. And unpacking, daunting as it is, can be like present time and full of surprises.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pumpkin Cat


When we finally got around to carving our pumpkins, everyone was very excited and eager to participate. William carved hands all around his pumpkin. It came out very cool. Alex scraped his pumpkin head and gave us a bare bones chill. Max's pumpkin was scraped too and he cut out a grinning Jack O'Lantern. I tried to make an owl... wide eyed and alert. We were scooping and gutting pumpkins for hours. Maria thrilled at using the word "guts" in every sentence.


She also thrilled at the prospect of designing and carving her own pumpkin... "All by myself." She got busy right away and whipped up this picture as her design submission. Apparently "All by myself" does not preclude getting someone else to carve.

We love Pumpkin Cat. All of him. Six legged cats are uncommon, yet frightfully appropriate for a Jack O'Lantern. I do not want to over analyze this. We simply love him.


In the end she went another way and drew her own owl on her tall pumpkin.
Did you guess "spider" on the owl's forehead? I did, but it is not a spider. "It means love," she said, surprised at my interpretation.


Cue spooky music. Roll in the fog.
They looked great lit up.
We still have some roasted pumpkin seeds.
We still have a few pumpkins set aside for pie.

Creativity with squash... wonders never cease. And if you agree, that there are wonders all the time, everywhere, then you may enjoy the always interesting blog Wonders Never Cease by the wonderful Rebecca Ramsey. Love the variety, the introduction to any number of new subjects and tidbits.

Thanksgiving comes before Christmas, so I may be putting the cart before the horse, but you should take a peek at the "Silliness that (sort of) Rhymes" happening at Cart Before The Horse, the blog that is "Jo's little corner of The Cart." Let me get out my thesaurus... the art happening in this blog is whimsical and fanciful and imaginative. It makes me want to build and paint and sew and create tangible evidence of the activity in my own imagination.

One more discovery. I am in over my head being a gardening mama myself, so I have not had nearly enough free time to immerse myself in this blog, but soon! Every time I sneak a peak at GardenMama I feel excited. Nicole's blog is a visual stimulus for falling love with the world.

Now laundry.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Flossing Every Day

Embroidery floss that is... I should remind myself to play with some every day. I love the seemingly limitless color options and all the possibilities of scenes and images waiting to be stitched to life. As far back as grade school I have liked to pull a needle with thread or yarn. And whenever I go to Alicia Paulson's blog or open her book, "Stitched In Time," I am reminded of lovely and creative pastimes I could be enjoying. "Posie Gets Cozy" has many posts dedicated to embroidery and look for her free embroidery patterns... whimsical images for dishtowels.


Usually I sketch my own images to embroider, but sometimes I find one that I cannot pass up. I could not resist printing the patterns offered at "Turkey Feathers..." you never know what you'll find when you click on the button "Sweet Surprises." This is another wonderful blog for endless inspiration, in the garden, in the kitchen, with needle and thread. This is another blogger that has published a book! Vicki Haninger's "Blanket Statement" is a personal narrative, as well as a guide for sewing with wool felt and making the most of a thrifted treasure.


I wish there were more opportunities to make all the things I am inspired to make. I think it's a matter of habits... trading bad habits for fun ones. Less time channel surfing = more time to sew. Of course sometimes I go to the other extreme, ignoring everything so I can finish stitching a cute bunny with an appliqued apron. I get obsessed! Vicki shared several animals in aprons to copy and embroider, and she gave instructions for using them to make a quilt. Maria chose the bunny when I asked her which I should make. When it was finished I knew I had to add it to something, but what?


Introducing Maria's Bunny Apron! I traced the front half of one of her dresses and made my own pattern for a two sided apron with pockets. It has a drawstring tie that slides from the waist, up around her neck and back down to the other side... does that make sense? Well, however badly I describe it, the method works.


Sometimes aprons get dirty and wash day does not always come around soon enough, so we have a solution for that: Flip!


A different pocket, just for fun. Room to collect things.


Maria likes her aprons. She wears them for doing art and eating yogurt. She wears them in the garden and to the farmer's market. I think this could be a fun one to bring on our trip... she can have two looks for one when we "pack lightly."


Don't worry... I wouldn't do it, but looking at this picture I cannot help but imagine Betty in a smart little apron. Grin.


My own design... inspired by what? I wonder. Grin.
It needs somewhere to go...

And do not miss this terrific chance to win your own apron from Missy of Spring Bean Things!

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

We Are Not Quarantined

.... but we have had to make some changes in our weekend plans:

1. Pig wrestling in Oaxaca

And we had to add some things to our plans

2. (urgent) Secure cancellation insurance for summer trip, a.k.a. Chickens Abroad

I know Swine Flu H1N1 influenza A is not a laughing matter, and yet it has provided moments of hilarity for me. Particularly the article on MSNBC the other day, and from it I offer this quote:

"Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman said the reference to pigs is offensive to both religions and "we should call this Mexican flu and not swine flu," he told a news conference Monday at a hospital in central Israel.

Both Judaism and Islam consider pigs unclean and forbid the eating of pork products.
"

Am I to infer that they can eat Mexicans and therefore calling H1N1 influenza A "Mexican Flu" makes it palatable? I would think that a flu that may become pandemic would be crisis enough without people fretting over the name, and that anyone's sensitivity over pork would be trumped by the notion of singling out one country by making it share the name of a deadly virus. Talk about insensitive.

Well, whatever you call it, I hope it stays away from You and Yours.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

We Are 5 for 5

5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do.
Is this alarming? I wondered where we would stand, how our list of dangerous things would compare with Gever Tulley's list of dangerous things and I have to say I am pleasantly surprised. It's not that I relish the idea of implicating myself as a careless, reckless, negligent parent. On the contrary, incorporating these 5 dangerous things in to our lives, I believe, demonstrates our careful, rational, attentive parenting skills.


1. Play With Fire
It's primal. It's the gathering place. It's practical. Fire is good. As a grown-up I have never hesitated to build a backyard campfire... in a sandpit, in a tin can. I remember when I was about 10 years old my mother observed that I could not light a match and she made me learn. She really had to make me do it, because I had a fear of fire and heat and getting burned and I would not light a match. I think I was crying and protesting, but she broke through my fear and gave me a skill. It was a beautiful exchange of ignorance and anxiety, for knowledge and ability. I offer that same opportunity to my children as soon as they seek it. I do not withhold fire and they do not glorify it or fear it. They understand its virtues and its risks.


And they understand that I will let them experiment with fire and test it, under supervision. So, when we went camping Maria could not resist cooking the onions she chopped (see Dangerous thing #2) in the candle. She could feel the heat, and she observed that she needed a tool to extend her reach and she learned that candles have a weak flame, easily snuffed out by too many onions. The worst result of this experiment was a delayed dinner, because I was by her side and ready to intervene.


Fire takes patience. It takes practice and fire needs our full attention. Patience, practice, and full attention are also very helpful in raising children. I keep my expectations high and my patience higher. I accept that there will be injuries and there will be messes. Lots and lots of messes. I consider messes a certain indicator of intelligence and creativity. I consider cleaning messes a certain indicator of training, intelligence and maturity. I tend to value creativity more than training, but there is room for practice in all areas.

I wish I had photographs of the first trip I made with the boys to El Valle, Mexico. It was in February of 2001... so, William was almost 10, Alex was 6 and Max was 2. It was on this adventure to the remotest corner of Sonora that the boys fell in love with fire. We cooked with fire, we warmed the house and water with fire. We played with fire. Yes. I know "play" sounds so irresponsible and wrong. Playing with fire rocks. Too often we think that play is trivial and that it minimizes responsibility. Play is the work of explorers, of learners, and work is the play of the inspired, the motivated. We can play and work and it can be both responsible and fun.

They observed the open fire where we were cooking meals, they watched their bisabuelo keep the fire lit for the water heater, and they became aware of this element as a tool and a resource, and a source of something to do in a place where there was no television, bookstore, theme parks, toy chests, or playgrounds. So they gathered wood and kindling to help keep the cooking fire going. Then they burned sticks and observed the transference of heat from wood to sticks, from coals to leaves, from stones to fingertips... and they learned about burns to skin... sufficiently to avoid serious injury.

An element of danger is present everywhere and I cannot see the point of avoiding experiences for the sake of avoiding pain, confusion or disorder. They learned, not from a book or cartoons, about what fire is and what it can do and why it matters and how it can behave. There is sufficient evidence that this kind of learning is hugely beneficial and lasting. Also, they learned that I trust them... I trust their intelligence and ability to gather information, I trust their judgement and sense of responsibility and fairness, I trust their intuition to act in accordance with sound principles... these are not experiences to be acquired from any book or video.

Coming up:

2. Own A Pocketknife
3. Throw A Spear
4. Deconstruct Appliances
5. Break The DMCA- Drive A Car

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Looking For Goodness


Some days I get a bit entangled in the whirl of thoughts and doubts and fears that swirl in my head. Okay, most days... But most days I can unravel the mess and move forward. Other times it is not so easy. If I tell you how muddled and befuddled I am about life, details and everything, I wonder if you would nod in sympathy or shake your head in dismay? Am I just riding the same waves, swimming the same current as everyone else, or do I find myself fighting a riptide? Never fight a riptide.

Sigh.

Argghh.

I picked my camera up and went out looking for goodness. Looking for a pretty blossom or a sunny spot. Meg reminded me that not all of our moments are picture perfect, and sometimes it's just a matter of focusing our attention, or our cameras, in the right direction. Sometimes it helps to pick out the goodness, capture it, frame it, and hold it dear.

Hmmmm... I wonder if this simple analogy (the idea that we can help ourselves move forward and feel good by taking a moment to focus on our best moments and brightest views) applies to my uneasy mood about some post inaugural drivel I have come across... I am not going to go looking for any of the hardcore naysayers, but even in some very gentle and balanced blogs, I have come across comments of incomprehensible acrimony against the new administration, and against people's expressions of hope and renewed patriotism. I feel shaky and sad, to witness even small samples of fear mongering, ignorance, rude immaturity, and pettiness. I cannot fathom the beliefs or mood that spawn such bitterness. Happily I have seen far more examples of rational debate, agreement to disagree and sensible acceptance that our democracy is a blessing to admire and uphold. None of our hope and optimism about our President and the next 4 years, will mean a thing if we do not work earnestly, cooperatively and respectfully. Keeping our attitudes positive, our actions diligent and our pledges honorable, I believe we can endeavor to find and enjoy more blessings, more goodness. I want to focus on goodness... it strengthens my resolve and restores my faith, so that I can move forward.


So, some days we get a bit muddled. It's okay. I guess we just gotta pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking our day.


Some of you in the colder parts of the country, the world, may not like hearing this, but our warm and breezy days sure do make a mess of the yard... so do the hens. Gad those girls are messy! Finally, after weeks of clear skies and sunshine, we are going to get a bit of rain. We need it. I welcome it, but I do wish our yard would not flood and become even more useless than usual.


Maria put our befuddled and frazzled broom to work, sweeping the poop deck, (as we refer to any space invaded by the chicas.) No, I suppose this is not a classically pretty picture, but I consider it lovely just the same. It's volunteering. It's effort and enthusiasm. It's meeting a challenge and contributing to the greater good. A child stepping up happily to clean is really a very pretty picture.


She put aside her well loved bumby, and, in a strangely familiar tone, chastised the chicas for their messy ways, while she piled up dry leaves and old straw.


As I prepare this post I have discovered that our server had a security breach or something like that, and they've changed our passwords. Or we need to change our passwords. Something like that. This means waiting for Geoff to come home, because he is the technical contributer to Chickenblog. I have learned how to manage a lot of things to keep this blog going, but dealing with our server is not one of the skills I have mastered. I should return directly to the goodness I found with my camera, before I get entangled in frustration about the many days and nights we have been apart from Geoff, which makes me sad and pouty, which makes me think of the housing debacle, which makes me angry and bitter, which leads to a total halt in all domestic operations, which is depressing.


Yes.
A hug.
Support and kindness.


I love that Maria scoops Betty up with all the affection of a 4 year old and all the expertise of a seasoned farm girl. I love that we have fresh eggs to gather, and ridiculous hens to listen to and watch. I love that this picture makes it all look so pleasant and easy, even though it is not.


And here is a little hummer update. I don't see too much difference from 4 days ago. But I am glad to report that she is still there, still taking care of her nest. I am glad my lens and curiosity have not frightened her away. After reading Zoe Anne's comment ("Chances are you will never find a hummingbird nest, even if it is in your own back yard.") I felt extra lucky to have ever spotted the nest in the first place! She does sound like an expert hummer enthusiast!


Ahhh I feel better. A bit less entangled. A bit more hopeful. Here's a pretty picture. As for the rest, I will carry on and do my best, and try to remember not to fight the riptide. Now, let's see if the server will allow me to post any of my deep thoughts and pretty pictures. If not, then wait for it, and in the meantime imagine something lovely, and I hope you feel some goodness too.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This is My New Year Day... A Whole New Era!

Happy Inauguration Day!

10:00 a.m. PST
Proud, proud day.

I cannot think... it's all emotion and joyful tears.
I think of a favorite poem:

Outwitted

He drew a circle that shut me outó
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!

--Edwin Markham

It does not reflect the entire day or all my feelings, but it reminds me of a piece of the tapestry... "our patchwork heritage..." that is our history and our strength... and the words challenge me and give me courage.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Chocolate Wool For Comfort


Outside of these walls, in the news, I find myself so dismayed and frustrated I want to scream. It's not that the economic crisis is a surprise, the unexpected consequences of greed and corruption. I thought it was plain enough to see coming. I think the frustration comes from being really angry and disheartened and feeling abused by what were supposed to be fundamental American values and principles of economy. The question has been raised... are we, Generation X, angry? "Angry" doesn't even come close. Baby Boomers, and the Greatest Generation have bankrupted their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and the same legislatures, bankers, lenders, CEOs and politicians that arrogantly saddled us with our bleak future are still at the helm and ensuring themselves excessive benefits at our expense. Do you really believe it's a coincidence that we are inundated with the live simple mantra, just when the light of day is beginning to shine on the ruins of our society? I like living within my means and growing veggies, by choice, but I feel ill and ominous misgivings when the government and media spout their green slogans and perpetuate a notion that we can buy and shop our way into a better economy by consuming the right kind of cr@p. John Mc Cain said he wants to legislate protection for housing prices so that home values do not fall... WTF? We are in trouble because they lied about the value of homes and stocks and material junk, and now we have to pay for those illusions, and further more we need to uphold the lies... print money, erase debts, hand billions of dollars over to the same SOBs who stole it from us in the first place....

Sorry.
Did I say that out loud?
Ahem.
Yeah, so I have issues.
And just when I think I want to give up hit something eat steak, chocolate cake and popcorn balls I turn to my yarn and start making something. Anything.


It's welfare for the rich. Do you realize that? The whole bailout and mortgage forgiveness is socialism for the elite. On the surface it seems like a nice thing to rescue people from their burdens, from the huge debt they were "dealt." But what about the greater percentage of citizens that own homes, that are making their payments? Is it "nice" to saddle them with the bill for other people's errors, mistakes, reckless spending? What happens to the renters and savers who have waited for the natural rise and fall of prices in the housing market? Protecting inflated prices does not help the poor... it ensures that housing prices remain ridiculously out of touch with reality. I believe that nothing our government is doing to bandage the problem is going to work. How much longer can people lose jobs, work for stagnant salaries, pay higher costs for staples and still be able to pay for overpriced homes?

Argggh.


Where's my yarn basket?
Who wants a comfy scarf for Christmas?
Is this green hat cute or goofy?
Maria wants to send it to her cousin Dominic.


It's a luxury... self pity, reading articles and browsing the Internet, roasting pumpkin seeds and staying up 'til 2a.m. crocheting chocolate brown wool in to a comforting scarf. It's a luxury and a lifeline. I need something to help me keep from completely unraveling.

How are you coping?

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

An OCYD Update


Did everyone see Anna Banana's comment? She found a link to a TP cosy, and I swear I thought it was a top hat! I was staring at it for the longest time and humming Putting on the Ritz. I know that art is subjective... do I need to post an apologetic disclaimer, in case I am hurting anyone's feelings? I have to say though, this is the line, for me, where art and craft parts way with aesthetic beauty, function and form. I am also uncomfortable with coconut monkeys, googly eyes on seashells and this.

There were a lot of good and funny comments from the OCYD post. Sara, I don't know why I suggested that knit hats on chickens would be too much... the very idea is gaining favor with me by the hour. And some mini croissants would be good too. And I see Nikki appreciates the possibility that the chicas might look spiffy in hats and knit accessories.

Hello River, of Australia. You are so right: I wouldn't want to send out homemade gifts that are not unique. In my post what I meant by "unique" was that they might be a bit unpolished or a little too amateurish, or less gently put... ugly. I am laughing, when I say this, so no worries.

I think Mtn. Child is right to suggest I try Afghans. I am not disciplined or ambitious enough to try anything as cute as this dress from "Oiyi's Crafts." But I really, really want to try my hand at a ripple blanket, like the one I saw at "Cats and Quilts."


I finished another brown hat last night. I love it. But I am not unaware that it may resemble a toasted acorn. Now I am working on another scarf... same brown with flecks of orange and lichen green. I am laughing again... I've been so drawn to this color palette, the seasonal browns and pistachio green, deep oranges and golden ambers, and I wasn't even aware how drawn I have become until I looked at my picture. I am wearing the same brown with orange and green as I am crocheting, and I may even try to fix a dinner to match.


And the owl is my other crush. This summer Max and I read a wonderful thrift shop find, called "Owls in the Family" by Farley Mowat. We absolutely loved this book with its adventures and suspense, and it's rather politically incorrect narrative about boys, nature, bullies and life's hard lessons. I like its open and honest approach to describing the good and bad antics of these children's lives. And I have become fascinated with the beauty and charm of owls. I miss hearing the pair of owls that called to each other when we were perched high up in the home we called the Tree House. I miss seeing the collection of dear owls Grandma Eunice kept in her home... she has an owl crush too... she might like to read that book.


Last year I added this tiny owl to the Halloween decoration I made.


So far we have 3 costumes ready for Halloween this year. Max gathered articles from different closets so he can be young Indiana Jones. He looks really good, ready for an adventure in history and archaeology, like Henry "Indiana" Jones. Alex has been preparing to portray Dex of "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow." Alex was born to this role, an inventor in a steampunk world, with a high moral code, impromptu skills and a ray gun. Maria consistently tells everyone she is going to be a pumpkin for Halloween. She wore this costume last year, the same one I made for William's first Halloween in Minnesota, 1991! Maybe I can crochet some kind of pumpkin hat to cap the pumpkin suit...

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Friday, October 10, 2008

I had a Really Good History Teacher

These economic nightmare posts are not happy, I know. And while I never tried to make this a blog exclusively dedicated to all things happy, I do try to move forward with as much gratitude and light as possible. I have also tried to be a realist, at least so far as telling our story. So, while I could post about the quilt I just finished, or the pink hat I crocheted for Maria, I cannot help but acknowledge this historic moment in American and World history. This is unprecedented. It is the end of an era. It is personally, and historically fascinating. We are not likely to forget this week.


Thank you Mr. Watson. He was my high school history teacher, and I credit him with inspiring me to quilt, fall in love with Wisconsin and homesteading, and making the Great Depression a real and valuable lesson in economic responsibility. And every time my landlord or realtors or neighbors gave me funny looks or flat out told me I was naive when I talked about the housing bubble and our nation's financial collision course, I thought about my history class, about the parallels between then and now... If we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it. Man, I loved that class.

Oh, I guess it might not seem fitting to have Betty's picture next to Mr. Watson's name. She's there to look pretty and remind me that life is beautiful. Good Betty. Look Pretty. Life is beautiful.


Maybe I should show the new quilt. I made it to be purely, luxuriously comfy-snug. It's flannel on top, and slinky soft Minky on the bottom, with fluff sandwiched in between. Tonight the children and I will share it and a funny movie, maybe You Can't Take It With You or It's a Wonderful Life, and we'll take heart in the good things.... like movies at home, warm quilts made with love, backyard chickens, and all the fixings to bake a pumpkin pie.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Flights of Fancy

These are hard times. And even though I have anticipated this general collapse, I can still honestly say, that many of the details and reactions are astonishing. I mean, seriously, a bail out? A rescue? Our government has concluded that trillions of dollars of bad debt and corrupt practices can only be salvaged by begging voting for more debt. It's sad enough that we have lost the respect of the international community, in so many other regards, but just to add insult to injury they essentially own us... our solution is to rob Peter to pay Paul. Pathetic.

I'm sorry. I can't help myself. I get all worked up about this stuff. Do we really want to examine the parts of the bailout that are mind numbingly stupid? Stupidity like the rum clause... a little rebate to U.S. Caribbean territories, estimated to be worth $192 million over 10 years. And then there is the news story of the 90 year old woman and her foreclosure woes. Her tale is a sad one, and so are many others, but what is the message the government and media are communicating to us? Gee, sorry you shot yourself, but HEY! No sweat. For taking two bullets to your upper torso, we'll forgive your mortgage, courtesy of your fellow Americans. It's a risky proposition, but one wonders what a broken toe or black eye might get you. I am not lacking in sympathy for the suffering of some individuals, but the sweet grannies are a small minority in this debacle and until I see Angelo Mozilo in jail, feeding homeless people or contributing to the bailout then I feel no qualms balking about our government's unwavering idiocy. Sometimes I imagine that the whole mess is super-super hard to understand and then I am reminded that no, in fact the whole mess is so easy to understand it can be summed up in a comedy skit. (Oct. 8 update: Why was skit removed from Hulu?)

I was going to move on. Change the subject. But something has come up and I cannot exclude this passage from this post. Countrywide Mortgage is getting bailed out. Geoff just told me, and he didn't have to explain what this means for our family. We have been patiently and hopefully waiting on a short sale of a property held by Countrywide. We have saved and waited for 5 years to buy a home with a reasonable mortgage and on ethical lending terms. We have endured ridicule and shame, we have been diligent. My 3 boys slept in the effing kitchen/dining room so we could bide our time and do things the "right way." Free market and capitalism were good enough for the mortgage companies then, but now they want their sorry @sses bailed out, because God forbid the free market dictate that houses be worth less than what they dreamed up. Our hopes and plans are officially wiped out. Countrywide will withdraw the house we wanted to buy, and instead we will continue to pay for that house and millions of others, that we don't get to live in, through taxes and losses that will burden generations.****

What are we supposed to do? Please. I thought I understood some things, but I see I was profoundly wrong. I could lash out in angry protest. I could really make an awful display of my rage. Isn't it too bad I am still a good citizen? I cannot even mention what I wish I could do...

What should I tell the children? Oh, God. I actually told them, last April, *Mommy's pretty sure we'll be in our own house by Thanksgiving.* It seemed so close to possible. It seemed so possible to believe and hope. Is there a support group for this sort of thing? When everyone was on the spending spree and shaking their heads at us, we had no one's sympathy, and now we are still out of the loop... everyone assumes we are smugly sitting pretty, instead we are getting screwed. No relief. No bail out. No rescue. No sympathy. No home.



I had all kinds of pumpkin patch pictures and lovely sentiments about the pleasures of taking flights of fancy, of me making up stories about flighty witches in the quilt shop I love. I was on a fool's mission, and I thought it was sufficient to amuse and distract me, but no more.

****Sometimes in the interest of being discreet I am not so much subtle as I am obtuse.

Allow me to clarify.
1. We made an offer on a home
2. The home is was about to be foreclosed
3. The owners borrowed from Countrywide, and they continued to add home equity loans to the tune of many hundreds of thousands of dollars above their mortgage
4. Our offer was to be a short sale... something satisfactory to the lender... unless
5. Unless the government stepped in and agreed to bail-out the lender from their reckless lending
6. Foreclosures are sad when it's old ladies or hardworking families with honest tales of woe, but around here there are are far more flippers, Humvee owners, I need my Botox now kind of scenarios that do not remotely evoke sympathy.
7. We have been bumped from at least 4 different home sales due to highly questionable tactics... this time I blame Jerry Brown.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

No Wonder!
In yesterday's post I was being a complete goofball... ahem, I am frequently being a complete goofball... The spider of course did not steal my pen, but she might have because, as Em kindly pointed out, these are writing spiders!!!
So cool. So funny.
This coincidence is going to amuse me for days and days.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

The Itsy-Bitsy The Hunky-Chunky Spider
Yeah, this post has BIG spiders, and I apologize if you get the heebie-jeebies about this sort of thing. And I apologize if I misspelled heebie-jeebies or if it's some archaic racial slur or hurtful putdown, 'cause you never know. Anyway, I have spider pictures and I may not be able to write anything relevant about them, but still, I am compelled to share.

Cue creepy, crawly music:

Oh, mamacita were these spiders large. The largest (non-tarantula) spiders I have ever seen. So large I have to over use italics even more than usual. Do you need something to compare them with?


She actually jumped on this pen and stole it. I can't write checks without my pen.


This spider already had something to eat, otherwise I would not have put my camera so close to those fast hands.


So, what do you want to talk about? Seen any good movies? Anything interesting in the news? If the economy and world markets aren't your thing, you may be heartened to learn that video gamers are surprisingly fit. Cool, huh? Also, this just in: It's snowing on Mars!

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Friday, September 19, 2008

The Real Pirates

The United States of America is a socialist country, and it wasn't a revolution that led us in to this uncapitalist era. Welcome to the biggest bailout season of all time, and be sure to thank these evil, dark lords of piracy and plundering. They are the villains of this new age, and we have them to thank for being swindled and cheated. They are the CEOs of the big banks, and mortgage companies, the ones we are saving from natural selection, by paying off all of their "bad debt." "Sub-prime crisis" and "bad debt" are the terms they toss around, so that it sounds as though this whole debacle is the fault of families with risky credit, instead of companies with ruthless and unethical lending practices. They say "We're all homeowners now," and it makes me want to retch. We played by the rules. We saved and waited and behaved responsibly, and now they tell us that we are going to rescue the institutions that send away their CEOs with "$7,000,000 for 3 months work..." or how about "$68,000,000 to Charles Prince, after a 57% drop in quarterly earnings just before he left Citicorp?"

I am too angry... it's painful. Isn't piracy a hanging offense?

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

What We Saw

We were very good farmers yesterday. Max learned how to prune roses. Our landlord is responsible for the landscaping and upkeep, but his hired help have been neglecting a lot lately. I took it upon myself to cut back unruly vines and deadhead lilies, roses, daisies, and pull weeds. Our yard waste is picked up for recycling, but if I want to cut back any more plants we'll need to bring home another barrel to haul the stuff away. We swept and dusted. We tossed odds and ends. The chicas seemed happy for the backyard company, and Max and Maria were happy for the industrious garden chores. Max and Maria worked together to pull up the sad and scraggly remains of the tomato plant, then they planted green beans. Max pulled dead flowers from Lola's garden, and maybe we'll get around to planting zinnia and dianthus today.


Before doing any more farm work, we filled our water bottles and made our way to a nature trail. Recent bluff failures closed the trail we usually we take, and did not know we were headed for an extra long detour, but as usual the hike was beautiful and worthwhile.


High above the Pacific Ocean, the views are refreshing and captivating. It sure would help to have the ocean to look at, to motivate my senses and muscles, on our way up!


We hiked for an hour and a half, or as Geoff noted, for an hour and twenty-five minutes. I could kick him for being such a stickler for accuracy. Lucky for him my endorphins were up, and my legs were wobbly. lol


Like we did on our last hike, Max wanted talk about gardening. Geoff told him he would love to have a garden, because he loves to see how happy we are in the garden. Maria wanted assurance that her daddy sees how happy she is in the garden too.

William and Alex were talking about Spore. I doubt I ever blogged about "Spore" and considering the 3 years of anticipation, I should have mentioned it once or twice. Now, finally, it is available, a game so elaborate and innovative it took since 2000 to complete. William has been filling my head with bits and pieces about the ingenious ambitions of this video game for a long time and I got an even greater appreciation for it after seeing this TED video. I think this is one of those milestone moments in gaming, and it's exciting to read, "Will Wright announced at E3 2008 that National Geographic would do a television documentary on Spore, as scientists use the game to explain real-life biological, physical, and evolutionary science; this is the same documentary that will be included with Spore: Galactic Edition. He also announced a partnership with SETI... " The game is installed here, on the new computer, and I know this won't be the last we hear about SPORE.


Setting in the sun, this little lizard on the buckwheat was not too shy.


Sheltered from the sun, Maria did a fair amount of the hike on her own 2 sturdy legs. She liked seeing the sunning lizards and finding the last of the season's flowers in the dry scrub. She's convinced we are climbing mountains when we are on this hike, and I guess from her point of view, we do scale some remarkable heights.


Sometimes we don't talk at all. We just walk and see the trail ahead.


Breath deeply.


Marvel, and sigh.


Just relax.

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