Thursday, May 29, 2008

We Thought We Could

Proud Mama and a few Peeps, above

I am so relieved to report that the Peeps and their mom, Sharon, are safe inside the henhouse this evening. Yes, we did it! We weighed the risks of both sides of the question: predators in the big world versus Sharon's innate sense of doing things her own way and potential Big Chicken Meanness inside the coop.

After a couple of unsuccessful attempts to move them alone again, I finally enlisted Jonas's help and ingenuity in a carefully calculated SWAT Team-like maneuver. It was like we were in the movie The Matrix, in our skin-tight leather suits and black duster jackets, with Techno music thumping....Oh, no wait. It was more like me with my fly-away hair in blue clogs and favorite jean skirt and Jonas in the same tie-dye tee shirt he wore yesterday---a little bit sweaty and feeling pretty nervous. I took a tall laundry basket and laid it on its side, putting the open end flush up to the side of the house on one side of where the family was trying to hide in the irises in the front garden. Jonas was on the other side of the irises with a piece of plywood. With only minimal shooing, the family soon trundled into the basket! We closed the end with the plywood and transported the whole thing to the henhouse. We kept them shut in for the remainder of the afternoon, with the amenities of food, water, and a nice box to nest in on the ground. Sharon, ever the independent-minded chicken, chose instead to make her bed in the opposite corner in the poopiest part of the coop.

We'll see how it goes tomorrow with the big chickens! Tonight, I am resting easy...And you know, trusting my instinct worked pretty well. When I returned home this evening there was a cat sniffing around the porch! Had we not moved the family this afternoon, who knows!

Below, a Peep taking a little tiny nap. They are so busy all day long: playing tug of war with a worm, drinking and eating, learning to scratch the ground to dig up little edibles, stretching their wings, tripping and falling over, but they nap when they can, usually just a few seconds!

Look how sweet they are, posing for the photo:

Below is a chick in motion! S/He is hustling along, maybe thinking: "Oh No! Where'd everyone go?!"
ATC Make and Swap Report
We had a wonderful ATC evening on Wednesday and carved some beautiful rubber stamps. I will post a picture soon of the stamps that Jonas and I created. One mom who wasn't able to be there reported that her son, very uncharacteristically, broke into loud screams of frustration when he learned that he wasn't going to join us! Everyone was safe with the sharp tools and it seemed like everyone was satisfied and had fun. Two participants unknowingly carved the same design in opposite (one carved away the parts that her neighbor did not) and the result of the two stamps together was a very cool surprise!

Below, an ATC from The Universe to YOU, sent via Thought Mail Telegram, with the postmark Love Everywhere:
And this one is called "Thinking of Joanie:"On Sunday, I will draw four names for the ATC Giveaway! You still have time to leave a comment! Hmmm, and then to pick which cards go to which folks!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Peeping the Peeps!

Well. I could have called this post, "Holy Cuteness, Batman!" I raced home from work today to find that Sharon and babies were out from under the porch, taking in some warm sun in the front-porch garden (mostly full of mint!) that belongs to Jonas. She was quite willing to let me observe the family from the porch and I took many photos! There is lots of peeping and nibbling and fluffing and wobbling about.

Below, the white circle at left is a juice jar lid, just for a size comparison:

In the Minty Jungle, below, the mint is about 8-10" tall:

Now the problem is...How to entice her to move her family down to the hen house so I can sleep peacefully at night? I am afraid if I scoop her up the babies will scatter, due to the in-bred reflex to self-preserve against marauders. Anyone have any great ideas?

All six peeps and their proud mom:
Don't forget, a few days left to leave a comment on the blog! I will draw 4 lucky winners on June 1st and send out a special ATC to each winner! If you are a first-time visitor, that's OK, you can still say hello! Read more about it here.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Grandma Trudy's Memorial Azalea, above

Oh My! Our little Sharon, the tiny game bird sized chicken has six of the tiniest most adorable chicks, hatched right underneath our front porch! We only discovered them yesterday; see here for a post about our discovery of the nest. I was digging a hole for a lovely dwarf azalea to be planted in honor of Jake's grandma who died, when I heard some tiny peeps...At first I wondered if it was just more bird song, then followed the sound and laid right down on the porch to get a good listen. Sure enough! We don't know when the first one hatched, but we surmise it may have been 3 days ago. Here is Sharon and one little Peep, just to the left of her head:

She hasn't left the nest since Thursday. We began to wonder if she was getting hungry and thirsty, and have utilized the creative minds at this address to contrive a watering set-up: a PlayMobil trough that is lowered to her on an orange piece of yarn, then filled by a turkey baster. (A big concern of mine is chicks who are too new to know not to drown in their water!) Here's a photo that includes a chick, a mama, and the improvised watering trough:

You can see in the pictures that Sharon and family are just visible between the edge of the porch and the side of the house; when it rains, Sharon gets damp but the babies are toasty-warm beneath her. It's hard to get photos because of this unique nest location, but we'll keep trying. Peeps are usually blurry in photos because they don't stay still much! Here is Sharon, fluffed up and a little annoyed with the paparazzi:

While it's hard to get much done with all of this peeping happening, I do want to tell you that we'll be carving our own rubber stamps this week at the Rockport Library on our Wednesday night ATC group! We'll start with a little demo at 6 and everyone will go home with a piece of cardstock with all of each other's stamps on it! This month I will be facilitating, as Robinsunne will be absent (and sorely missed). Come prepared with your ATC supplies and, if you have them, bring carving tools (linoleum carving sets work well, as do fine woodworking tools). Check out what you can do with a simple hand-carved stamp. Below is a background paper, followed by an ATC that I made using it:
"The silver rain, the shining sun, the fields where scarlet poppies run" (above) is a line from a verse used for before-meal Grace. I don't have the author just now.

Interested in some wild pictures of colorful sea slugs? Click here! Thanks, Carrie. My favorite is the white-ish one with black stripes, with a little peplum on his/her bottom!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


The apple blossoms are just lovely right now and I wish you could smell them. Lately we have been having these dramatic skyscapes that remind me of when I used to live in Portland, Oregon. Puffy white clouds in some areas, other clouds are dark gray---the perfect background for the bright yellow-green of new leaves.

We have a chicken, previously mentioned in this post, called Sharon. She is a very tiny chicken, we don't know what breed, but in subtle browns and golds. She is a free-spirited chicken, often not roosting inside the henhouse with the others. Her partner, the small rooster George, seems OK with it. He has other lady-friends like Alice, who he keeps company with when Sharon is away. Yesterday Sylvan discovered (almost two weeks after seeing Sharon the last time) that she has a nest full of eggs underneath our front porch! We don't know if she has had enough conjugal encounters with George to make the eggs viable, but we will keep you posted. Here is a picture:

Last night I was having a moment of overwhelm, the usual things like money and healthcare, and I decided to stop feeling lonely and sad and just sit down and make some cards. It turned out to be a great way to manage my thinking. Soon I was relaxed and calm again, enjoying the perfect moment that I had to myself, in a quiet house, at my art table.

"Not Just for Laundry," picturing some ServiceWomen reading Martha Stewart in Iraq:

"There is a Way to Fly for Joy," below. Did you notice that I actually used some of the beautiful origami paper, finally?Remember, leave a comment on the blog and your name will be added to the pile I will draw 4 names from on June 1st! You still have some time. Last night I fell in love with something Ravenhill made and pictured on this post, using a sweet bluebird fabric. It might take a moment to download the picture, but it's worth it! Go take a peep!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Birthday and Baseball!

Today is Jake's birthday. The above cake was full of delicious egg yolks from our hens. Instead of "If life gives you lemons, make lemon curd," my new motto is "If life gives you lots of eggs, make cake, pie, and lemon curd!" We had banana cream pie, too. The cake above is a lemon cake, with lemon curd overflowing like a pretty yellow skirt, and white frosting. Below, check out the delicious yellow color of the lemon curd: Below, Little Red Hen eating sunflower seeds off of my fork at Jake's birthday party. Jonas recommends listening to it without sound, as there is loud music and inconsequential chatter in the background.

AND...Today was also the first scrimmage of Sylvan's Tee Ball team. Yes, the American past-time! He is #4:
In right field: In the dugout:
Sylvan's first At-Bat----number 1 in the batting order!

Today, everyone got on base (even when they got tagged out), sometimes the players needed to have the bat taken out of their hands and shooed off to first base, sometimes the players slid onto base even thought they didn't need to, and everyone won. The three innings lasted over an hour, and that felt a little long to the players and spectators. Here's me any my twinkly older boy, watching the game:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

In the Garden and Other Places

"I'm not your guru...You are."

This is the week of Jake's class' play "The Music Man"---good old Americana, full of goofiness, and cheesy romance! The middle schoolers did so well, even with the smoochy parts (hidden demurely behind a parasol!). The exciting news is that our boys were "extras" for the big scenes, Jonas is a trombone-player in the Boys' Band! Sylvan is adorable in his costume, overalls with a button down shirt, bare feet, and a straw hat; especially endearing when he mouths along the lyrics with other characters.

I have had only a little time and energy to make cards this week. Yesterday was a big push to get the garden planted...finally, after feeling like I needed to relax (well, actually I was working more at the library) after my semester ended. So I planted kale, chard, salad greens, cukes, brussels sprouts, peas, and nasturtiums. So today I am sunburned and sore, but feeling virtuous again. I will get a picture soon, when there are things popping up!

Remember, leave a comment and have your name entered in the ATC Giveaway contest! This is my thanks to you for reading. Imagine my little cards getting to take a big trip to somewhere in this big world! I will draw four names at the end of May, yours could be one of them...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Happy Mother's Day....

Such a happy day it was...I have beautiful cards, poetry, and a new climbing rose bush I will try not to kill. And three sweet boys in my life.

The weather looked like this:

We spent a relaxing and fun day with friends at their lovely home. Our breakfast table looked like this:

With vintage china from the 1940s---so gorgeous!

The moms made ATCs with the kids while the dads cooked up a delicious meal of eggs benedict with smoked salmon, pepper bacon from Morse's Saurkraut, delicious fruit salad, and mimosas. Did I mention the fellas also made blueberry scones?

Here are my two ATCs of the day, backgrounds by Robinsunne:

If you look carefully at the card on the left you can see that there is a little plastic flower charm. It is a homemade Shrinky-Dink. (If you were a child in America in the 1970s-1980s, you may remember these things: plastic that had pictures preprinted, usually superheros or cartoon characters, and you baked them in the oven and they became tiny little charms.) Yes, homemade Shrinky-Dinks! We learned this at the Saturday ATC Make and Swap at the Rockport Library from, who else, Robinsunne!

Here's how to do it. You need #6 plastic, which is not recyclable in Maine. Usually what comes in this is things like bakery items from the grocery store (yuck). I was hoping it would be salad greens, but no, that is #1. So you take a piece maybe about an inch and a half square and draw a little something on it with colorful permanent markers: Jane made a beautiful leaf, I made a "J" and an "S" charm for my boys, you can put a flower, symbol, pattern, whatever. You can draw on both sides of the plastic, like I made the flower on one side and polka dots on the other. Slightly round the corners of your shape...otherwise they are too pointy...or not, if you like pointy! Also, after your design is drawn on, you can use a small hole punch to make holes in the charm...for earrings (I am wearing some right now, thanks to a talented young friend and her mom!), for sewing onto your ATC, or sticking brads through, etc. This has to happen before the next step.

For the next part, you will want to have something to absorb heat. Robinsunne had two aluminum pie plates, the one on the bottom was upside down, the one on top was right side up. Also have some pliers handy for picking up the hot plastic. Then take a crafter's heat gun (we think the heat guns that take paint off your house would probably be too much) and turn it on, holding it above the charm. Watch the magic! The charm will curl up and you'll be thinking: "Oh no! It's curly and ruined!" But it will flatten out in the next few seconds. Then take the pliers and pick it up and put it somewhere to cool! You can also use a toaster or try a hairdryer. This #6 plastic seemed odorless, but I'd recommend ventilation anyway.

So start scavenging. Make friends with people who like to eat those bakery goods from the grocery store and help them recycle! This was wildly fun and the potential is great. Really. You should try it as soon as you can, you will love it!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

5 Minute ATCs

I decided to challenge myself: could I put a time limit on my creativity? How to be more intentional, thinking of my 5 minutes as a type of practice. Like those writers who say that they just sit down and write for a certain amount of time each day, whether they think they have something to say or not. On the card above, I got a great idea from Robinsunne to use that air-drying Model Magic (in terra cotta) to print a stamp into. You ink it up a little, then imprint it into the soft clay; when it dries it's like a little medallion. My kids have been trying it too, and somehow I keep finding bits of it that are snipped up in strange places around my house. So I just gather up the bits and think of ways to recycle. Above and below, these are some 5 Minute ATCs.

(Do you recognize the origami paper from last post in the above card? I still haven't been able to cut into the paper, the closest I came was cutting up the squares above which appeared on the packaging. And the background paper, that Macaroni-and-Cheese-in-a-box Orange, somehow always surprises me by looking great on a card.)

Above is one more 5 Minute ATC. Do you recognize my handcarved stamp, on the background? And the vellum is from the cover of Peter Sis's book Tibet: Through the Red Box. The tea label says: "A Relaxed mind is a creative mind." I wasn't feeling that relaxed, but it was my wish for myself at that moment.Finally, this is a detail from a Secret Project I have been working on. "Angels Fly...because they take themselves lightly." Hannah may be able to guess who this is for. And I promise to tell you all about it later, just in case the recipient is reading this!

All Through May the Comment Pile is Growing!
No, I didn't mean Compost Pile (though that is growing too), I mean the pile of names I am gathering for the Thank-You-For-Your-Comment ATC Giveaway! Any time you leave a comment during this month of May, even just a little hello, I will add your name to my little pile of slips. At the end of the month I will be drawing 4 names and sending ATCs to folks who have been kind enough to say hello or leave an encouraging word!

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Sun is Shining, The Grass is Green

This past weekend we had two performances of "Awakening Mother Earth" by the Terra Diddle Collective, presented by the Rockport Public Library; the play was conceived of, directed by, and written by Kathryn Oliver---and what a success! The play tells the story of spring in verse, with song, dance, drumming, and musical accompaniments, and with lots of nature spirits and elemental beings! Kathryn is an amazing visual artist who works with clay and makes an incredible garden; she designed most of the costumes and created all of the sets too. I was shepherding our chorus of 4, my older boy Jonas was one of the North Winds, and my younger boy Sylvan was a little garden gnome who passed out programs and also held up a Peace banner at the end. Here is a link to the Wind Scene: Jonas is the hula hooper at left, and if you look behind you can see me and my chorus in the background (also at left). And if you really want cute, check out Sylvan and his best buddy (also a garden gnome) here. Check out Marti Stone's site to browse her many other beautiful photos of the event; click on each album and browse through at your leisure.

I wanted to show you some of my new beautiful origami paper. I have hesitated to even use it until I showed you! How can I ever cut into this? They are like gorgeous kimono print fabrics.

These are two favorites, like wallpaper:
And these, as well:

Leave a Comment, Enter the ATC-Giveaway Contest!
It is so strange to me that through this network of bloggers, suddenly people are reading the blog who I don't even know! This is kind of thrilling! So, to thank you for reading I am doing an ATC Giveaway at the end of the month. Here's how it works: anytime during the month of May, leave a comment (it's nice and easy) or just say hi (if you're shy), and I will enter your name in my pile of paper slips. At the end of the month, I will draw four names (one for each week in May!) and send the lucky winners their ATCs. Leave your email address (if I don't have it) or ask for mine, so that we can be in touch if you are a winner. I would be SO very excited to send a card to a faraway place to someone I don't even know, but also happy to send ATCs to my already known and beloved friends. Thanks!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Happy May Day

"Yellow Cape House dress/thirty years loved, then passed on/for another's use."

On Monday, Jake's last living grandma died at 100 years old. Trudy had just about the most lovely death you could imagine, surrounded by her four children, two of their spouses, and one grandson (Jake); as she died they were holding her, speaking encouraging words, and giving their love. What a gift that Jake was there with her. The whole last day of her life (she was sleeping), she had a full hospital room of her kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids coming and going, rubbing cream on her hands and feet, laughing and joking, sharing stories of her life.

For Jake's whole life, whenever he visited the family home on Cape Cod, Trudy wore a yellow shirt-waist dress. The dress meant summer days and lots of cousins and family, the beach and ice creams. I knew her in the dress there as well, and one year remarked to her that I always thought of her in that dress at the Cape. She replied, "You know, I finally gave that dress to the Goodwill. I was just sick of seeing myself in so many pictures in it, but it had plenty of use left in it for someone else." A true Yankee who had lived as an adult through the Depression, she never wanted to throw something away that might still be useful.

Below, inspired by a Neruda poem, a child wrote these words:
"Where did the star leave its book tonight?"

And look at these gifts from friends...
Robinsunne noticed my delight at this lovely stamp she made, so she stamped me up some cards for my "crafting pleasure!" They came in their own pocket on an ATC.

And Emily, of Ravenhill, was actually on this continent and right in my neighborhood, but we weren't able to connect this visit! But we managed to pass each other some lovelies anyway. I sent her some ATCs and she sent me a little gift bag with one of her most special Babushka dolls inside! I am thrilled. Ravenhill has an Etsy site also, if you'd like to see more. Did you know that in Norway there is a saying: There is no bad weather, only bad clothes? I love it, and learned it from Emily's blog!

I am disappointed that my camera cannot really capture the details, but I think you can see that there is some delicate applique and embroidery, not to mention a delightful mix of colorful fabrics.

Month of May Comment Give-Away!
So, yes, the commenting should be easier now, so I wonder if you'd like to leave one and have your name entered in a bowl for a "Thank you for Reading" ATC giveaway? In your comment, leave your name and email (if I don't have it) so that if you are the lucky winner I can let you know and find out how to send you your booty. I will draw four names, for the four weeks in this month! Just drop a little doesn't have to be fancy