Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Home Again

Everyone has heard the marketing quip... What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
Well, it's a lie! A smelly, dirty lie. Okay, so the "smelly dirty" part is in the washer, but I am still disillusioned.
We came home with three loads of spirited laundry. Something that smells of fear, and cheer, anticipation, and earthquake-road trip survival... and none of it stayed in Vegas, baby. It's all in my laundry room.

Fortunately, before I was up to my nostrils in Vegas memories, we had the most amazing and comforting welcome home, Happy Easter ever. We drove west Sunday morning, and it was a doozy. The five 6 hour drive was plagued with high winds, and closed restaurants, then an earthquake... which, to be honest, we did not notice traveling at 67 mph in wind gusts, but still! Were we ever whooped.

But, the Bird House was open, and Ruth was in the kitchen filling the air with fragrant aromas. Holly and Rich were ahem... The Easter Bunny had just left, and eggs were hidden all over the backyard.

I am ruined forever. From now on, I will always secretly hope that after every road trip we are greeted by family or friends, and a beautiful and abundant home cooked meal. That the children will have fun awaiting them, that there will be chilled wine on the patio, cut flowers in a vase, and that all the cares of the road and long weekend will evaporate as we laugh and play.

It was nice putting off laundry. It was a relief not having to search for any open market, so I could throw together a healthy holiday dinner. It was comforting, after the melancholy of saying good-by to family, to be greeted by more family. Every detail and nicety was considered and thoughtfully planned, and our only expectation was to enjoy ourselves... and we did. Very much.

Since then, I confess, I spent an entire day doing next to nothing. Writing, downloading pictures. Trying to figure out why FB would not let me get into Lexulous... important nothings like that. What a luxury.

Then we started to reacclimate to our domestic climate. I started in on the laundry and dishes, bought cat food. Alex, Maria, and I went east to our old El Rancho neck of the prairie and we visited our favorite thrift shop. Now we have more forks, a new table cloth, shirts that fit Alex, and a little, metal Peanuts lunch pail that Maria cherishes. We also stopped at the tortilleria, and brought home some hot corn ones, and some jamaica flowers for punch.

Back home, Geoff reaffirmed his commitment to unpacking. And the first box he opened revealed something like a Christmas present! Not since 1997... that's how long it's been since our bread-maker was been out of a moving box. We packed it when the cord was destroyed, and it never came out until now. So, Geoff and Alex set to get it back in working order. All of those moves, six total, must have shaken stuff loose, because they had to do more than replace the cord. I think they kind of enjoyed themselves. And when I figure out how to crank her up and get her baking again, we will all be enjoying ourselves. Toast 'n' Jelly Days, coming soon!

I still do have chicks on the brain. It is spring, and I want chicks. But. Always with the big but. But, I have to get prepared, and time things, and be responsible... blah-blah-blah. Being an adult can be so overrated. Hopefully, signs and articles, and circumstances will align and Polish chicks, or Silkies, will be more than just hencakes on the griddle.

Now, there's nothing to stop me from making some salsa to go with those fresh corn tortillas. So I roasted one chile verde, and I have tomatoes and a jalapeņo simmering on the stove. Cilantro from the garden, a bit of white onion finely diced. Sal. Pimiento. Ajo. Blend, and go!

We're home.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Geoff Goes Greener

I am not sure why this has not had an official announcement... maybe I was waiting for the naming ceremony, or a Green Party, like the Orange Party we had for the Chica Roja... tangent... Remind me to tell you about the Orange Party we had for the orange Kabota tractor we named "Chica Roja." There was a band.

Where was I?
The announcement.
I'm good.

Ta-duuhh! Tah-dah! Tuh-Duh!
Oh never mind.

Here it is!! Geoff's Green and Greener Ride.
Yes, after three years of commuting to work in the Green Goose... tangents galore! Remind me to tell you about the Green Goose, our motor home, bought ten years ago when we were seven people living in 1400 square feet, and we were in immediate need of a room addition. It's like a family member.

Where was I?
The announcement.
I'm good.

Ta-duuhh! Tah-dah! Tuh-Duh!
Oh never mind.

Geoff has been shopping. Diligently, patiently waiting for the car. Something smaller than 26'. Something to remind him of his first love. Ahem. The '66 Chevy Impala SS convertible. Remind me... never mind. So, seriously, he was very careful in his research, and very patient about the wait for the ideal gently used, super fly, ride. He lived for three years with the voice of his first real love saying things like:

Why don't you just get a mini-van?
Are convertibles safe?
Will you fit in a Mini?
Just do it already.
How about you take the Odyssey, and I'll get a pick-up?
Are convertibles safe?
For the love of sanity, please buy yourself a car.
Call James, and get a cop car. Do it.
No. No, you cannot buy a motorcycle. Why? Because I said so. (Just kidding. I used reason to squash his dream.)

The Green Goose, in case you are wondering, gets better mileage than a Hummer, but slightly worse than a motorcycle, but the big advantage is that it doubles as a programmer's week-day apartment. And if you know anything about the work hours of a game programmer, then you know they need a week-day place to "live." God blessed us with the Green Goose, and we mean no disrespect, by bringing in the Mini-Goose.

So, it finally came together... sound mechanics, clean enough interior, only slightly abused body, excellent color, fair price, convertible Mini-Cooper with a thing in the dash that tells time.

Cute, huh?

Yeah, Maria loves it. Love-love, loves her daddy's sweet ride. It's pretty much a babe magnet.

I've driven it around too. It's fun. It's small. People talk to me when they see me get in or out of this car. What is up with that?
Have you seen my car?
The Honda Odyssey, aka Jet Puff Super Fly Reliable Ride is an awesome vehicle,
and if people had more sense they would be my BFFs seeing me around town.
Never mind.

I love Geoff. I love that he has his car, the one he wanted. I love that Maria wants to ride with her daddy. I love that while he's been home, he has taken shifts on the magic-Mini-school bus. I love that he reminds me that, "It's your car too," and he made me my very own fancy Mini key to prove it.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

We Keep Springing Forward

These are the kind of posts I enjoy stumbling across... some day in the future, I will see this and recall all kinds of things, big and small, and I will enjoy remembering them. I may wish I could go back, or I may be grateful just to have survived. In the midst of our busy days, errands, challenges, and successes... there are moments, there are ideas, feelings, and milestones that are worth noting, worth a pause.

We are doing too much, as the saying goes, but sometimes "too much" is too good to pass up, so forward we go. Pushing to get to FRC Las Vegas, and juggling to be in Atlanta too. My friend Karen was right when she said, We can do this, but it won't be pretty. I think on her wisdom and humor when I look around my home, wondering if we will ever finish moving in, if we will ever achieve the comfy-settled look of an organized and tidy home.


But only a small sigh, and not a desperate or grieving sigh. I actually feel energized and motivated by our goals and plans, the goals and plans of 2102, Robotics. The disappointment about delayed domestic settling and chick postponement is fairly fleeting. The inspiration and success of the Team is invigorating, and feels more meaningful to me than finding our Easter wreath, or pruning hedges.

So, what have we been up to? Well, we enjoyed the opportunity to give family a metal-shop and robotics tour and introduction. Alright, so it's not the typical way for families to finally make the time to hang out, but I think they had a pretty good time. Alex got a chance to share his knowledge of the robot controls, the new tower, and mecanum wheels. The team got a chance to meet Spencer, and to figure out that when they are featured on the morning news, it will be like sharing cool stuff with a friend, so no worries. I was kind of imagining Jacob, Jesse, and Maria in ten years... design, build, and marketing... 2102 Team Paradox in the year 2020.

Maria thinks she is part of the team already. And fortunately, they do find ways for her to participate, to be a Paradox. Her parrot-ox dress is ready to go to Vegas.

Her hat and apron are ready too. In San Diego she passed out about eight hundred chocolate Paradox eggs in the arena... something we call Paradox Gracious Chocolatism. She is ready and stocked to show her spirit in Vegas and Atlanta.

While Maria, Max, and Alex break down the Cupid Shuffle, I've been doing some sewing for the marketing team. My blanket stitch is getting good. And plushy parrot-ox parts are definitely part of our domestic landscape. These handmade plushies are for alliance building, and diplomacy, fundraising and team creative expression, and they are hugely popular at FRC.

Speaking of creative expression I finally unpacked a gingerbread house kit. One of the few I bought for Christmas. The ones I left in the garage, when I realized and accepted that we were never going to get around to decorating gingerbread houses for Christmas. Why not Spring, and Easter? Right? Shade the frosting pink, and sky blue, find pink sugar sprinkles and egg shaped confections, and voila! A spring cottage. Maria and William supervised me and the glue gun, and once it was assembled, they set forth with decor.

It turned in to a hectic night... Geoff trying to make Alex and Max's room in to a bedroom, Alex doing homework, Max industriously turning paper and tape in to the Grand Canyon for his Arizona state report, and me trying to be a marketing mentor-blogger-domestic queen of all... Someone should have stopped us, or intervened, or something... but Easter Gingerbread, markers, paint, laundry, bills, computer files, bed frames, vacuums, and other domestic perils happen. It's messy. It's not pretty, and yet somehow it's good. huh... It's a Paradox, really. Lots of chaos-mess-stress = good memories-humor-springing forward.

Now, don't get the wrong idea about my resilience and good humor. In the middle of the hectic-chaos-mess-stress, I was probably the messiest-stress mess of all. I don't recall dropping any f-bombs, but I am glad I was not standing near an open mic, or in the presence of rolling cameras. I do look forward to a long break, to robotic-homework liberty, to really and truly being moved in, to family time spent in the same room and time zone.

And in the meantime, thank goodness for family that willingly agrees to a get together in a greasy metal shop. And thank goodness for generous friends who make the time to bake amazing snicker-doodles and puckery sweet lemon bars, then wrap them in a dear kitty box, and send them to our home. Funny, Geoff thought the kitties were named SnickerDoodle and Lemon Square. This was one delicious moment, I will never forget... thoughtful and refreshing, giving me the steam to keep springing forward. Special thanks to Minou, Sam, and Em... those sweet, furry snicker-doodles.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Me, Like A Chickadee

How, like a chickadee?
I cannot seem to stop chattering. Maybe not out loud, but certainly on this blog. And sometimes, like a small bird, I flit from branch to branch, or from subject to subject.

I never have been sure how to categorize Chickenblog. "Random" comes to mind.

A Whatbird.
Ever seen one before?
This bird, and several shyer ones, was sitting on the top of our apricot tree. And it sounded... don't worry, I am not about to give you my audio bird call interpretation... it sounded like a chickadee. When the sky was blue, it did not look as yellow.

And when the clouds filled in, the yellow was more pronounced. Does anyone recognize our little Whatbird?

Last night it rained. It rained more than I had expected it to, which is not necessarily significant information meteorologically speaking... it's just me, chattering away. Yvette you were right about the mud at South Side Mountain, which is why I am glad I left most of the weeds alone. The weeds do a lot of good, I say.

Have you ever had a season when you were sick so frequently that you felt embarrassed? I believe I wash my hands frequently, and I have been taking vitamins. I own and use a neti pot (this might sound like a bad testimonial) and I think happy thoughts. I kind of squirm uncomfortably when I have to admit that, yes, I am sick, again. Recently I missed a very important celebration. Maria was croupy, and I was "under the weather." I thought I made a full recovery and certainly had no clue that I was headed for worse. But. Here I am. I blame Dr. Drillhappy Martin. In 2002 he found his way through my tooth, through my jaw, and into my sinus cavity. I am not sure he was going to stop, but lucky for me Alex walked in to the room and demanded to know, "Why is my mom's mouth filling with blood? Nothing sinusly has been the same since. *shakes angry fist of indignation*

Did I have point?
Maybe the picture is an extreme macro-shot of my sinus cavity?

No. Self-sinus-photography is not one of my skills.
This is Geoff's. He is the Robotics programming mentor.
I was going to make this control panel and write programs to operate the robot, but then I got this sinus thing, so I let him take over.
I would explain it all. Describe the function of that metal box with the thingy sticking out, and why when it is on it sounds like a breadmaker, but... Top Secret.

Yeah, it's pretty much classified. Technical and classified, so sorry. Please step away.

This is slightly less technical, but equally as elaborate as Geoff's programming driver station. It is one of my baking drawers, and it is decadently loaded with measuring cups and teaspoons. The wealth of this drawer makes me lightheaded and bakingly gratified. There is abundance. Disorder, only to the untrained eye. I see clean supplies, ready to go to work. I even have a tool for making raspados and two maple leaf cookie cutters... two? I do love Canada, and autumn.

Want the dish on my kitchen?
I love thrift shopping.

I love aprons.
I love table cloths, dish towels, and bowls.
I really love bowls.

I love these teeny tiny glasses... Holly, Rich, and Ruth came with a bottle of limoncello for Geoff's birthday. We enjoyed the powerful sips from larger cups, but a few weeks ago I saw these pretty five for two dollar glasses and I instantly knew what they would work for... limoncello anyone?

The cow and kitty creamers look like they are straining to get a sip. It is such a blessing to be easily amused.

Not amused.
Time's up. Kitty says so.
Enough random chattering from this Chickadee.
I am going to drink hot tea and go to bed, or the sofa, or maybe to the South Side, and nap with Betty.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

What Not to Wear I Wore It

This is a whole new theme. I am going to either shame myself in to a real makeover, or resign myself to embracing my "inner" beauty. I am not so shallow as to propose that nice clothes and a hair brush are above kindness and good deeds, but something tells me I could do better.

My intentions are to:

1. Learn how to use my Christmas tripod.
2. Amuse myself.
3. Confess. We are talking full disclosure.
4. Challenge myself to graduate to a mature-sophisticated-aware state of being.


1. I have not located/unpacked my earrings.
I know this is a minor factor in the overall problem subject, but wearing earrings is a small yet effective means of caring about one's appearance, I think.

2. I am not a morning person. I should quantify that... I am not a person that cooperatively and enthusiastically rises and agrees to submit to the timetables and rigors of school schedules.

3. Morning is my time and my time is never-ever-ever dedicated to:
a. ironing, unless for sewing
b. brushing my hair
c. being uncomfortable
d. applying make-up

4. All of the above would go a very long way to making me look less... Sasquatch.

I know.
I could do better.
I should do better.

It's an issue.

The hat. Well, the hat is cute. I made it. But it is, of course, hiding the hair that went unwashed... I could blame the septic system this week, but honestly, most mornings my shower comes late.

I do wear sunscreen, but obviously I have not located/unpacked my make-up. No mascara or foundation or concealer or lipstick or airbrushed shellac.

The brows. Well, yes, I shouldn't leave home without tweezers and a fine toothed comb. Enough said.

Sure, I can let iMac run the airbrush over my picture, but family and neighbors don't get this glossed over version, so it doesn't really count.

Step this way, if you will...

These shoes looked good. They looked good last June. Without socks. I think wearing my heavy wool socks with these summer shoes may have stretched them too much, because my feet are coming way forward and frankly, I don't think they look any better without socks. (Last pedicure: May 1998.)

The pants work for one wearing. One. I must not treat them like my farm-girl jeans that I won't wash until they can stand freely. These pants get wonky and wrinkled after a day and slipping them on for speed and ease is fashionably criminal. Even I can see that. Also, the big red stain on the hip... it's fading, sure, but it is there. Note to self: Lose these pants.

First of all, I want to congratulate myself for putting on a bra. Small measure, huge difference. The T-shirt is another matter. For one thing it is not my T-shirt, and that means one or two things: I am raiding Geoff's side of the closet because my diet is fail, and I have not kept up with laundry. So, as much as I loved SIGGRAPH, I am not wearing this ginormous T-shirt as a geek statement.

I like the coat. The coat is thrift shop vintage... White Stag, Portland, Oregon... in case that means something to real fashionistas.

I like my tripod. Thank you Geoff.

So. This is what I wore today when I dropped Alex, then Max off at school. I came home and, technically, I had time to make certain improvements before taking the next shift, but I did not. This is what I wore when I dropped off William, and I actually walked Maria in to her classroom wearing exactly this outfit. If I hustle, I can shower and change before I pick Maria up. We'll see.

Did I mention... ? I find this amusing. I see what can be done, but there are so many other ways to pass the time, that my personal style will only improve with significant effort. "Significant effort" may not be too big a deterrent, because studying these images I can see that I am closer to Crazy Chicken Lady than Uniquely Herself. I think my goal should be a Uniquely Me look.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Forget the Turkeys, I Need Help
::I read all of your suggestions, after painting the bench red. The primer looks very promising and when the final color goes on, I think it will be what I wanted. In case I didn't make myself clear: This was only about those benches, and now they pop with their warm cranberry-rose shade. Thank you for playing. Pictures soon.::

Put down your cookbooks and mini marshmallows. I am face to face with a real life paint crisis.
The crisis is: In real life I do not enjoy the stress-anxiety-responsibility of choosing paint colors.
I recognize a wrong choice, but I am not immune from making the wrong choice.
Help me Santa.
Paint fairies?
Friends, wise counselors?

Okay. Here is what we have, and your job is to advise me where to go...
paint wise.

This is the very best of the Bird House blue. Most times and in most light it does not look this bright, this perky.
I wish it did. I like this trick of my camera, that the blue came out so energetic and decidedly blue.

This is a slightly sadder version of what the blue typically looks like. It goes a bit drab, a bit gray.
Where are my good camera battery and charger? I cannot believe these two pictures were taken in the same place and time. One is facing north and the other south... it makes a difference I guess.

So, around the corner from the entry is where I need to paint. But first take a moment to admire the beach pebble set down over the new drainage pipes. The objective was to keep plants, mud, ponds, creeks and salmon from living against the foundation and siding.

Note: Those round pavers are abundant here and I have been moving them around the yard and making very good use of them. I am prone to making good use of materials on hand. I did struggle with the decision a little bit, because they are slightly not super pretty. "Function, paid for, and easy" won my heart in the end. So, yesterday at the garden center I went looking for five more... I only need a measly five more to finish the path to the door. The guys at the garden center rolled their fancy eyes and said, "Oh those. Yeah, we don't carry those anymore. Nobody wants them. Except you," chuckle, chuckle.

I want to know what color to paint the benches.

It needs primer for sure. That dry wood is going to suck up primer like Gatorade at the Super Bowl. After primer comes color. Help. Seriously. I want to enjoy choosing, but I feel so split, so wishy-washy.

Alright. I am sorry if you were doing something important, if I interrupted yoga or delayed you from leaving a comment on PW's blog... something that actually matters. But I know some of you enjoy this kind of thing. Some of you are good at this. Left to my own whimsy, this bench could get painted red, and after Christmas, I could come to regret my seasonal inspiration.

I did consider matching the shutters, but I am not too crazy about the gun metal gray and dark benches would not feel welcoming in the hot summer months.

The house is trimmed in white, which would stay cool and coordinate and... get dirty easy and quick.

Yesterday's post was so much more interesting and meaningful. I do hope you got a chance to read about this wonderful South African artist, but if you didn't, please help me first, before you follow the link. In twenty minutes I am going back to garden/home center to buy paint. Those fancy guys are going to roll their eyes at me again when I leave the store with a gallon of Christmas Red paint.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

The Bird House and The Carpenter
I miss blogging. I write so slowly that the little free time I have has not been sufficient for pouring out my deep thoughts and other musings. Somedays I am home just long enough to make it messier and then I am off to drive another shift of the school bus. Yesterday was out of control with errands and me being magical and appearing three places at once... actually Wednesday was the same, and Tuesday wasn't much easier, and come to think of it I am running late now!

This post is going to be about as mixed up, weird and random as... as me! I am just going to throw stuff out there.

Stuff like posting the worst pictures I could find of the Bird House.
Why bad pictures, and unflattering views?
Because I am trying to calm my excito-meter. I am trying to chill, settle down, take it easy. My mind races with the excitement of impending domestic delights and I get all worked up and eager to be out of Garage Mahal and settled in to the new nest. Reminding myself that the Bird House is flawed, redirects my giddy energy toward industry and purposeful actions. I need to stop thinking about window treatments and paint chips, and where to hang my plates, and get busy with the practical and necessary chores of both moving out and moving in.

There are junk drawers in Garage Mahal and a garage that is overflowing with worldly treasures... moving sale? I have made some progress with packing, but experience tells me that the last boxes are the toughest. It gets down to the dregs and the oddly shaped things or the very fragile stuff or the things that have no purpose yet are highly valued and must be kept forever; those are the articles that will torment me when I am trying to get every last speck out of Garage Mahal and into the Bird House.

I cannot glamorize or overly glorify the qualities of Bird House, or I will be confounded and dismayed when I finally notice that any home, a rental or a dream come true, has weaknesses, needs work, must be whipped in to shape.

So, what's up with the hook in the wall? Any guesses? There isn't anything opposite the wall, and it's not the kind of place where you would hang a dog leash. Maybe they had some kind of heavy garden art-sculpture.

Clearing things here and coldheartedly purging excess and refuse is inspired by the sight of this:

This Bird House utility closet not only needs to be emptied in to a dumpster, but it also needs to be gutted and done over, because of a leak. Somewhere behind the drywall, or coming from upstairs and settling in to here is a leak, and the leak must be found and repaired. ASAP. What about those extra tiles? If I can find a Habitat ReStore, then maybe I can make a generous donation.

A walk-in attic! Stuff! Not our stuff! Oh boy!
Wait. Are those moving boxes? Excellent.
I wonder if the ReStore can pick up...

A couple of roof fans, some insulation and drywall... this could be an interesting niche.

This is a mixed blessing. What you see here is a mess of aging, failing and black widow-riddled pool equipment.
Pool? Did she say "pool?"
Gee. Haven't I mentioned the pool? I grin hugely every time I think on it. The children love the water. I love the water! We cannot wait to be loving our very own water, but my giddiness is definitely tempered by the reminder that the pool needs love. A. lot. of. love. For one thing, no one is getting in the water until we fix the whole "faulty wiring problem." Seriously.

This is lovely.
I pop over and dead head and give them a nice cool drink. I inhale and marvel at the colors and varieties. It's a raised bed and I can see it from the kitchen sink and from the driveway.

It truly is just like real life. It's good and it's frustrating, it is hard and worthwhile. The whole package. And my future self will thank Me very much if I get up off my blog and work. No more daydreaming or fretting. No more procrastinating or pondering. No more Googling Lewis Carroll. The time has come, to pack our many things: Our shoes and ships and sealing wax--- our pets and books and cooking pots and Lego sets and strings! It's time to call the carpenter!

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