Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fresh Air, Yay!

Spent yesterday hunting and gathering rescreening supplies at Home Depot: A roll each of metal and fiberglass screen, two different sizes of spline (the rubber gasket stuff that holds screening into the frame) and a splining tool (a little roller tool to press the spline into the channel that holds it into the frame).

There was also a little VERY fancy car collector's club show set up in one corner of the parking lot, about a dozen perfect and polished 50's and early 60's cars on display with their elderly owners holding court in folding chairs next to them. The kid and I cruised through the display in my dirty, faded, top-down, loaded with old screens and hardware store bags, faithful daily driver 1969 Plymouth convertible and returned their horrified looks with cheeky grins.

She's rough looking but dependable, my girl Ruby. I felt like the proverbial bastard at a family reunion, it was great.

Scaring the straights was a bonus to the day, the real prize was sitting down and rescreening the kitchen window screen and the sliding glass door screen--that's where the heavier-duty metal screening went, the chickens sometimes jump and claw at the door when excited about a forthcoming goodie.

I can open my sliding glass door again without a stealthy feathery invasion, yay!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fun Stuff...

Found a couple of old advertisements...

Bird cards! Yeah, all kids wanna collect Bird Cards! And that Flycatcher looks SO damned happy. I guess when you're a kid getting Shredded Wheat for breakfast, birds cards are about the best prize you can reasonably expect.  I can just see some little advertising exec, crushed, sitting in his darkened office with his head in his hands, wondering why it didn't work. It seemed so fool-proof.

Then there's this one, from the late 50's:

Just look at that hen gobbling down that Jello. I can safely say I doubt very much if my chickens would EVER touch Jello. And they eat anything.

But Hickety's hep, all you cats.

A Friend For Life...

Today my surprise presents for the family came in, yay! I got us each a hiking staff from Whistle Creek.

Left to right: N. got a slender hickory staff, J.'s is a really cool, beautiful sycamore and mine is also made of hickory. N. got the more slender of the two hickory staffs, since her hands are smaller. I didn't think to ask the company to choose one for a child when I ordered, it's just one of those happy coincidences!

The wood is gorgeous and the finish is nice--not totally polished but smooth enough not to give ya splinters and sealed against the elements. They each have a rubber crutch tip on the end. You can get metal spikes for the ends of your staff, but that is more for rock/ice climbing, and I plan on using mine around town in place of a cane. To encourage the kid to hike, I also got us each a couple of hiking medallions--one for the national forests and one for Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite (we are planning a trip to Yosemite next month). The medallions came from Hike America, they have more hiking medallions than you can shake a stick at! Heh.

I told N. that I'd get her another medallion for each area that she hiked. I also tried to teach her a little about how a good hiking staff can be your friend for life, and might even save your life during a hike, what with it also being defense against animals. Of course, your first duty is to NOT be a total dumbass, and leave the animals alone. Once while driving through Yosemite, I witnessed a mother bear leading two cubs across the highway and into the brush, closely followed by a family of four who screeched to a halt, bailed out of their car and bounded full-tilt into the underbrush right after them.

Horrified, we didn't even stop.

I also told the kid about the buffalo in Yellowstone, if and when we get there.

I remember getting one of these flyers from the rangers the last time I drove through Yellowstone back in 1991. I love the little man's camera & cap flying in all directions. It's a Yellowstone yard sale! Yellowstone, sadly, will have to wait till either later in the year or 2011, though.

She was VERY taken with her staff, and for some reason known only to 10 year olds, has bestowed upon it the name of 'Jeff'. She has already been showing it to the chickens and practicing hiking around the back yard. She has also declared that she will sleep with it in her hand tonight.

Today's Howling Laugh Courtesy Of One Child...

The kid and I were watching 'So You Think You're Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?' tonight, and I was repeating the questions back to her to see if she could answer them.

The category was '4th Grade U.S. History', and the question was asking what two legislative bodies made the laws in Washington.

She drew a blank look, so I said, "The Senate and..."

Still blank. Her brow furrows.

I try again. "The Senate and...the House...of..."

She brightens. "Horrors?"

Yeah, I nearly burst a vein in my head I laughed so hard.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Working on the promised trip to Yosemite for all of us, aiming for sneaking off for a couple of days in mid-August. Today I ordered each of us a hiking staff as a surprise for the kid, along with some hiking medallions. She'll get another medallion for every area she hikes in the future. She is absolutely INSANE to go camping, so we may opt for the 'tent cabins' in Yosemite as a middle ground since we don't own any camping equipment (despite years of camping as kids in Scouts and with family).

Hopefully the 'tent cabins' have bear boxes for food storage, since I doubt if my '69 Plymouth convertible top would offer much of a challenge.

Can't wait to cruise Yosemite in my classic convertible! Hope it can make the trip...

In other news, the nectarines on my tree in the back yard are beginning to ripen! I figure another week or so will see harvesting the things in full swing. Meanwhile, the chickens are joyfully leaping off the ground to peck at the hanging fruit like they are tasty pinatas. Time to fence off the tree for the time being!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bye Sis...

Yeah, we lost our little buff cochin bantam hen, who was the surviving identical twin of the pair we called The Chicken Sisters. While they were both alive we just called them The Chicken Sisters (after one of my daughter's books) since they were freakin' identical and we could NOT tell them apart. They did everything together--ate, slept, foraged during them day--even brooded some baby chicks together! They were never more than about 6 inches apart and did that weird twin 'making the same movements at the same time' thing.

As they got older they naturally tapered off laying eggs. The first twin died of natural causes back in 2006, of old age we thought. We had gotten them as adults back in 2001, I figured they were at LEAST 1-2 years old then, and they were wild little girls, too. Amiable enough, but NOT lap chickens and hard to catch, and bitched a blue streak when you DID catch them. Never mean to their flockmates or us, though.

When the first twin died we expected that Sis, which is what we took to calling the surviving Sister, would miss her, but we weren't sure how much. She obviously mourned and missed her sister, but handled it well enough.

Since then she's kept to herself, and has been the grand old dignified dame of the flock. Then suddenly in 2008 she came into lay again, laying eggs for a few weeks, cavorting shamelessly with the boys and earning herself a trip to the vet for egg binding when she got one stuck. She was too old for that nonsense, and we told her so. We did manage to successfully incubate and hatch two of her eggs, however, and she has one daughter still with us today from 2008.

We've had her in the last couple of days since it's been so ungodly hot, and she was clearly suffering from the heat. We knew she was on her way out--she wasn't sick, just old and worn out, poor sweetie. Last night she went peacefully in her sleep.

We'll miss you, Sis.

Friday, July 16, 2010

1972 Is Done & Hot, Hot, Hot...

The tacky 1972 calender is DONE!

And it's just as obnoxious and bright as it has every right to be, it's glorious.

The 3D effect of the stuffed fruit really makes it pop.

Stupid heat wave. Right now I've got 5 chickens inside who weren't taking the heat well at all. The rest are making do with the sprinkler running all day, sitting in the cool mud under the bushes. Our oldest hen, Chicken Sister, may not make it--she's an old, old lady and her time is nearing, I think. She's been sitting under J.'s desk all day.

This is my spiffy electronic indoor/outdoor thermometer that J. got me for Christmas. Today it's reading some numbers I'd rather not see...at just before 4PM, AFTER the hottest part of the day, it's 105 degrees. That's DOWN from what it was, 106.5. Not much better inside, where it's bearing out what J. always says--the best you can hope for is a 20 degree split: it's 87 degrees in here.

The humidity, not to be outdone, SUCKS as well--29% outside, 38% inside. This morning it was raining nice, hot rain. Gross. This is California, and we're not set up for that. Earthquakes yes, sticky disgusting humidity no.

I love the little man in his swim trunks. He ought to be screaming and melting.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Damn stupid knee pain for keeping me up all night again tonight...

Well, the wonderfully tacky 1971 felt & sequin calender is done! Now to bring down the property value of the house and hang it on the wall...

Next project is to spiffy up the plain heavy canvas reusable shopping bags I got--rumor has it that the next thing our state will outlaw is paper and plastic grocery bags. They're trying to get people to bring their own bags to the store and use them, and phase out those damned plastic bags, something I heartily endorse. Towards that end I got some vintage-y iron-on transfers to put on my canvas bags. It's called, 'A Chicken's Romance' and is hopelessly cute.

I got them off ebay, the only hitch being that one--the 'Cute Catch' sheet--is missing. But I'm sure the seller will make good on it. The seller has a cool thing going where she takes old designs and reprints them. I figure 'A Chicken's Romance' is from the 40's.

The kid is showing an interest in needle arts and knitting/crocheting, so I'm going to try and set an example by doing. Figured for her I'll give her some really simple and fast flowers and things like that to embroider so she doesn't feel overwhelmed and lose interest.

She's really hot on trying knitting, but I don't know if she'd have the patience of dexterity for it quite yet...I may see if I can nudge her towards crochet for now.

Friday, July 2, 2010

1971 In Progress...

Well, the 1971 calender is nearing completion.

It's funny, in the instructions they tell you that while they give you extra seed beads since they allow that some beads are too narrow to fit over the needle, they only give you just enough sequins to complete the kit. No lie, I ended up with only 4 extra gold sequins once they were all used. Apparently in 1971 there was a sequin shortage along with gasoline.

Anyway, here it is in progress.

Taking pictures of the thing is difficult, here is another with different lighting--the felt is nice and white with no yellowing at all. Neither really shows the true look of it, it glimmers a WHOLE lot more than this.

At any rate, it's fun and cute, and I've finally gotten the hang of sewing on sequins so the thing progresses at an acceptable rate, and the amount of finger stabbing hasn't been bad.

My favorite is the Kinglet, he's got such a cute face!

I figure I'll have it entirely done in about a week, give or take.