Friday, August 31, 2012

I can see clearly now...

 my most recent artwork - It is about 5 ft x 5 1/2 ft
 see the flowers in my waistband, the little owl in my arm?
 see Big Mama?
I call this piece "clearly", for so many reasons


 Here is Windsor on the left, and Worcester on the right. Of course, you have to pronounce "Worcester" like this: Woostuh, just like you would if you actually lived in Worcester, Mass.

Here is 'himself', crowing and crowing. He is a wonderful cock-a-doodle-doo-er;
Poor Windsor sounds like he is just trying to clear is throat of an awful croup.

If roosters are raised together, they most likely will get along just fine. Most of the time, one of the roosters gets to be the President, and the other one is just part of the flock. That is how it is with mine.

Worcester went through a stage where he'd peck the crap out of your hand if tried to pick him up, now he just sidles around, looking at your warily, but he allows himself to be picked up now. He even will close his eyes and fall asleep if you rub under his beak.
After looking up his breed, he is, of course, a bantam, which means he is little. He is an Old English Bantam.

Windsor has always let you pick him up. He is the tiny little bantam there with the black chest. He is also a kind of Old English. There are many coloring types involved in the Old English. I had hoped for one of them to be a Cochin, as they have the feathers on down their legs, but alas...I'd also hoped for two hens, but alas...No more getting chicks that have a sign over them saying, "non-sexed".

How I LOVE my Chickens.
Off to make some lace curtains for them - they need more windows...

Monday, August 27, 2012

chickens and laces

Big Mama
She is an Australorp
She is an amazingly big hen - and I love her.
I raised her from a chick and had no idea what an Australorp was (she is an Australian breed that is a mix with an Orpington - I also have Buff Orpingtons, which are lovey little birdies, too - read more about her here.)
She is very old, for a chicken...she is 5. Now, chickens CAN live to be 15, even 20 years old, but I imagine that these are chickens who do not have to try and outrun a skunk or a racoon now and again.
As chickens get older, they dramatically stop laying eggs, but I LOVE her, so I don't care if she can give me eggs anymore. She has done her bit. She loves me to pick her up, and will even lean into me with her eyes closed. She is huge...have I mentioned that.
One day, when she was finally "all growed up" and as big as she was gonna get, I saw my daughter carrying something as big as she was. I thought it was a little dog! Then I saw that she had Big Mama in her arms. Big Mama wasn't flapping, she was looking worried, but she just let my little bitty girl carry her around.
I love that chicken.

 I think laces go well with chickens...I am seriously thinking about making lacey curtains for my little chicken family. Have I mentioned my little Banty Rooster yet? I need to get a good photo of him - he has a little brother who tries to be a rooster too, but the two of them love to be held. Worcester (which is OF COURSE himself's name) is an amazing little man. He is full of himself, as any good rooster should be. He did go through a naughty phase where he would peck the crap out of my wrists when I tried to pick him up, but he got over it. 
My daughter picked him up the other day and was rubbing under his beak - they have a little soft skin part under their beaks - and Worcester closed his eyes and put his head down. They are all little chicks at heart.
I told my neighbor about my old chicken and my naughty little rooster and he asked when I was going to put them in the stew pot. I said, "Oh no! I just like the eggs. I don't eat my chickens." He gave me that look like you would if you met a child who hoarded candy but never ate any of it. 

What I am really beginning to realize is that I love chickens for pets, and I want to put lace in their house. It means something about who I am.  
Today I was reminded that I am enough. Exactly who I am, is enough. If I ever try to go somewhere that doesn't accept my "enough", I don't belong there.

This comes back to me over and over again:
"Be who you are and say what you feel
because those who matter don't mind
and those who mind, don't matter.
~Dr. Suess

getting there

I'm waiting for fall to come
is getting there

Sunday, August 26, 2012

willow grief

I've tried to write about it several times
but I just couldn't. I was shaken. The tall structure I'd built for myself, had been knocked down. Not rocked softly with a call up to me, "Be careful, this is coming down!" But with a smile, and then a scary-quick, shattering hit with a sledge-hammer (hidden behind the back), 
as I fell I heard her say, "Well, have a really nice day." 
Have a nice day? 
What did she just say?
Do you know what I said back to her? I said, "Oh..."
All I said was, "Oh..."

What I didn't know, and wasn't ready for was the grief. I sobbed. I sobbed until my eyes hurt so bad, I had to shut them. I kept them shut to keep out the truth of what happened. 
Then I couldn't breath and my husband told me to lay down, but I knew I should put my head between my knees. When my breathing finally slowed, I glanced into my closet and do you know what I thought? I thought to myself, I should really have something to hang all my purses on rather than have them in a pile like that. No one hires someone who keeps their purses in a pile like that. 
have a really nice day...

I was part of a team.
I worked HARD. I did everything I could to do it RIGHT. I flaggelated myself whenever I stepped a toe out of line, even when no one else knew it. I was TWO MINUTES LATE TO RECESS DUTY...why am I so stupid, why can't I get it together. I did it all because I wanted, I needed, I thought I needed "have-a-nice-day" to really and truly LIKE me. What was I thinking?

Let's pretend that you have been training to be on a sports team - any team, any kind of team that requires specific knowledge, training, ability to deliver under pressure, grace, flexibility, endurance, poise - can you imagine that? Imagine that you have wanted to be on T-H-E team for 5 years. 

The first year, they patted your hand, yes we know you've studied and all of that, but we would really just probably use you for a sub, just in case. Okay, okay! I'd love that! I'd do that!

The second year, they let you be an assistant. Terribly, terribly low on the totem pole. You are not really on the team. You sit on the sidelines and bring them water. You aren't supposed to have opinions of your own here, in this capacity. But you work your ass off, making sure they know you are still TEAM material. Some people notice, most really don't. Still, I'm very close to T-H-E team, and that makes me happy.

The third year, you join a new team. You are the only player. You MUST collaborate with T-H-E team. You hope this is your chance to really SHOW them what you can do. You make playbooks and exercise routines all on your own. You ask their advice on your new rule books. You make special dates to show them what you've been doing. They seem impressed. They admire the work you've done.

The fourth year they have an opening on their TEAM! You know you've worked hard at getting ready to be the new player. You KNOW if you could just get in there, they'd believe you had the potential to be MVP!
You do everything to get ready for the interview - you just know you'll get this job, you just know it. You aren't young and cheap, and you do-not-have the right training...expensive I know, but you MUST get it.
devastation, but quick recovery...I'll just...I'll just mope a bit then I'll get on with life, I guess...
but lo! Mary Poppins calls, "You were our second choice, and we have another opening
 won't you come and be on our team?"
JOY! Joy and expectation. My dreams have come true. T-H-E TEAM wants ME. They want ME!
Work work work, work so hard you forget your daughter's 7th birthday, you stay late, you come early, you are on time to EVERY SINGLE THING (except recess duty sometimes, but other people miss it, too, and that seems normal).
Hooray, hooray, we can't wait for you to come play with us next year! We won every single game and now we are the best team in the district, and you KNOW you are excited to come back and be a part of T-H-E team again! 
Calmly, calmly, I prepare for the next interview. They said they loved me. They said I was great. They wrote great recommendation letters; they all led me to believe they'd choose me again. Life is good, life is amazing. I can't wait to do this again!

But lo! 
We've gone with someone else..mmmmkay...
Have a nice day!

Right now, I'm numb. I want to be angry. I want to feeeeeeel angry. But I feel numb.
I've not been eating. I force myself to eat right now, and that makes me kinda upset that they can affect me like this. But I thought I trusted them. I thought they were friends. I thought they believed in me.
I shouldn't have, they aren't, and they don't.
That is a bitter pill to swallow, Mary Poppins, and no amount of sugar is going to help that go down.

What I didn't realize was that this kind of job-loss causes real actual grief. I actually looked it up and felt (as much as you feel when you are numb and your heart feels like a lead weight in your chest) validated.
When you love your chosen career, your job is where the structure of your life lies. It is where your social circle probably is, and where your sense of worth comes from.
That was taken away from me.
It is a terrible, terrible blow.

What I keep trying to remind myself of is that I am always the willow. I bend but do not you know that you really can break a willow branch, but it takes real force. The branch almost doubles over on itself before it snaps a really wet snap. The bark splays out and usually stays intact in places, but it leaves a terrible wound that does not heal. Once viciously abused like that, the branch will hang listless, with its broken and offended part hanging lifeless. It is a sad-looking thing. That branch probably feels numb, wondering Why...maybe it says, "Oh..."

Friday, August 24, 2012

where I'm willing my heart to be

in the hopeful moments before
when things were possible
and the outlook was a calm fog
relaxed and in control

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Katie's Farm

I've decided to open up a little Etsy shop, and thought I'd let you all know about it. 

I'm planning on selling vintage and antique things - books right now - and also handmade goodies, like crocheted purses, or little handsewn mushrooms...I have a few more ideas as well.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Yachats, Oregon

 deliciously cold
 the beauty and calm we needed

 wide-washed, mirrored lines where 
water knits with earth
are a continual inhaling
-waiting for a question to form
 and feeling the answer
 at the same time-

the pelagic deep is full of mermaids
sea serpents

their moving magic
-like sugar dissolved-
washes over my brim-standing feet

and my eyes

 are clear

~Katie Estvold~

Saturday, August 18, 2012

wildfire season sunsets

 while I'm sorry about all the work our firefighters have to do to beat these wildfires down, 
 there certainly is a 
"silver" lining

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My "Anxious" Shawl

 This is the shawl I made while I was letting my son be a 4-H-er
It was a good lesson for both of being more hands-off and letting him make his own mistakes
AND letting him take more control of what he was responsible for.
 However it was hard on me, so I had to keep busy. 
I made this BEAUTIFUL, LUSCIOUS shawl for myself. I used one skein of each different color of Lion Brand's "Amazing" yarn that I could get my hand on.
they have names like, "Strawberry Fields", "Constellation", "Glacier Bay", "Wildflowers" and "Violets"

 I made up the pattern as I went along, which was so freeing and fun. I love the lacey edging I gave it, too.
I wore it to the beach this last week, and it proved to do its job, too!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

the realities

So living on a farm in the country...doesn't that sound so wonderful and serene and restful? Well, that is about 10% of the time. The other 90% is spent fixing things that broke.
We have a home that was built in 1948. The irrigation pipe is at least from 1948 as well. 
It is crooked and leaky and the sprinkler heads pop off at least once a week, sending spray everywhere, but where you want it. 
We share a well with the neighbor and at least once a week, we have to reprime the pump because one or the other of us has "maxed out the pump" by *gasp* doing laundry and dishes and a shower at the E-X-A-C-T same time. 
The chickens will get out of a tiny spot in the back of their run, or the dog will get into the chicken coop and eat eggs, or the pig will break his house again, or the hose will get left on and make "Lake Bacon" in his pen, or the Septic Pump Guy will back over your lawn sprinklers on his way to pumping out your septic because one of those sprinkler heads popped off again in the middle of the night, and it flooded the septic tank and there is "standing water" on top of the septic tank that smells like something from the far side of a parking lot of a rodeo.
The other day, I was trying to put one of those shower/tub splash guards up in our bathroom, and I found out that the wall behind the trim was soft enough I could've taken it out with a spoon, so I kept going until I'd taken out a chunk of wall that was about a 12" x 5" and found a bit of black mold behind there- my husband is fixing that right now - 
We still do not have cold water in the bathroom sink because the plumbing is so old on the cold water side, my husband has to figure out a different way to make the connection to the new sink. The old sink was, literally, from the 1950s, and while it was very vintage, it wasn't good vintage.
We make-do with just about everything around here - just need some baling wire to fix this, or prop that up with this, or hold it closed with that - I love what we do.
Our house (barn, hay shed, chicken coop, bunkhouse, ...) is not square, it is not new or flashy or even a little bit showy...
but it is ours. We own this home. We've lovingly painted its gray brick a creamy white, and planted flowers in front of it. It stands tall and tries oh so hard to be a solid, stable home. I am proud of what we've done, and what we continue to do.
Though it is hard, continuous work (heck we loaded and then stacked our own grass hay this year - by HAND - almost 2 tons!) but it is the most satisfying work I've ever done.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


like a weed with prickly edges
and soft leaves
bump-browsing through a tender carrot patch
I adore my son

I adore his freckles
those long eyelashes
his delicate, purpose-filled fingers
those shoulders that are starting to get a bit wider

the hair he wants styled differently, but doesn't care if it sticks up too much in back
I adore that, too.

I let weeds grow in my garden
because they have something to say
something to contribute

they are unruly, yes
but there is always something
always something
that I will adore:
a bit of delicate, curling vine
a little purple flower
an edible portion
the tallness

he sets himself apart these days
my weed-son

he walks a bit further ahead
or a lags a bit behind
not sure, himself, why he does this
he says yeah when I say nay
nay and yeah

we try to get each other to understand
listen to me, he says
listen to me, I say

we got up early one misty morning
and went on a walk 
on a lonely beach
and he held my hand
he hugged me
he grabbed my arm and looked up at me
like he did until the age of 8, always, ever

I grasped him hard
and kissed his eyes
and just in front of his ears
and the top of his head

we both said how much
how much
how much

we are learning to let each other be
and finding out how he wants to love me now
I, I am ever and always
-how much how much how much-
my weed-son

Tuesday, August 07, 2012


I have let the summer days trip past me again like some unnervingly fast ferris wheel. Crazy carnival music seemed to be playing while the sun beat down so hard it was making its own sound. There have been times when I couldn't stand it any longer and have shouted out, "Slow this thing down! Everybody stop!" then tried to explain my outburst by speaking to the rider under me, which is no great feat, conversationally shouting out to them with a pained smile, "I'm sorry to act so nervous, but I would like to just walk around sometimes...wouldn't you?" 
The rider looks embarrassed that I've mentioned the ride and looks away, seemingly too busy going round and round themselves (perhaps trying to reconcile the music with the time of the rounds the wheel was making or some such busy work), and the operator only acknowledges me with a sniff as I round by him, then he stops the whole gizmo with me at the top. Not, what I was planning, but a stop never-the-less.

The wheel of the year just keeps turning; The sun shines, the grass grows, leaves unfurl and turn bright. 

 I am pecking along like a hen with her head down, oblivious to the hands that are catching her from the backside. I've MADE myself stop in the midst - looking around like a good, cautious hen - climbing out of my seat and monkeying my way down and off the ferris wheel. 
I've sat outside with my morning coffee, listening to my roosters learning to crow and Tommy the hog snorting in the back. I've lazily watered a drought-stricken flower pot, praising the clover and dandelions...all of this before the "Busy" sets in for the day.

 I've been sitting in the midday sun, awaiting my 4-H orders at fair, crocheting a hot wool shawl on my lap, thinking to myself, "This is for winter. I am making this shawl for myself for winter. Why is this yarn called "Glacier Bay"? Oh, yes, I see. I do love the richness of color. Was that 5 or 6 chains? Did I already increase on this corner?" And there I went, not thinking about anything but what I was doing...however, I was still DOING.
Apparently, there are some people who can just sit and think of nothing...I think they call it meditating. That sounds like a super-power to me. Even when I sit, I think I need something to keep my hands busy; this is why I love hand-sewing or crocheting. I can watch movies, listen to my kids, and make mental lists for later while I create something.
There was once in early winter that my husband and I went to a place called "Summer Lake", which was not a lake at all at the time, but was only a lake during summer...curious. They had a "curative hot springs" there that we tried out, but mostly, I was taken aback by the "curative quiet". I went for a 2-hour walk out by the "lake-that-recently-was-and-would-be-again" where there was NOTHING. No houses, no hills, no plants but sagebrush, and no sound. It was cold enough not to have bugs at this time of year, so I didn't hear flies or anything. I just sat down, looking out at the nothingness and let my mind melt into it. I was in awe. I had this giddy feeling like I've only felt before when I was playing hide-and-seek as a child and no one found me for an hour. I had brought a journal with me, but nothing would come. The quiet wouldn't allow me to write anything. I just sat, hearing myself breathe. Now and again, a visiting wind. Now and again I'd notice a coyote track, or rabbit droppings. But I only noticed it. I didn't soak it in, or wonder aloud at it, or try to track it down. 
Why do I operate by extremes? I'd love to be one of those people (are there really any?) who can be balanced and calm and "just busy enough" and "just rested enough"...
Hmmmm...Summer Lake in Winter, or Ferris Wheels in Summer?