Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

This photo emphasizes that the Pacific Northwest is the singularly most winter-like place in the country. This weekend there were no pitchers of sangria, no barbecues on the deck but instead fires in the fireplace to take the chill off the house and hot cups of coffee throughout the day. Monday did give up a smile with a few hours of sunshine and actual warmth- temperatures in the 60's- so we could make it through the weekend without slitting our throats! Ah- summer in Seattle.

Still, complaining gets us no where and life really is pretty darn good. David and I had a fun mini-vacation in Vancouver- a great way to celebrate the end of 2 weeks of teaching. We stayed at a great bed and breakfast on Granville street and hopped a bus every time we wanted to head to town or out to dinner. It was great not having to confront BC drivers and the weather was very pleasant for walking and enjoying the spring flowers. There were some great meals and some really crazy conversations at the Bed and Breakfast with other visitors!! The Granville Island Market was terrific as it always is. With all that great produce, bread, pastry and fish how is it possible for Canada to have so much bad food? Besides Granville Island, we walked through gardens in bloom and beaches full of strollers and skate boards; all the best of urban weekends.

Now life is back to gardens and looms. I have the vegetables planted in spite of the cool weather. The only thing left to put in is the corn which I will try again only because I have the room. I have and entire flower garden to weed BIG TIME but instead this weekend I created another garden space in the front yard- damn that garden inspiration that said you could start a garden by putting down newspaper and straw then adding soil. Since reading that I have been adding gardens all over the place. This weekend I am putting in a couple of new blueberries and still have one more space to add when I collect more newspaper. (See above for a look at my new garden space -LOL!)

So the summer is starting in Kingston with or without the weather to join us. The chickens all have names now- Little Red, Henny Penny, Cluck, Stew, Ping and Buffy. They are getting big and seem to stay dry and happy in their home.

This week is the first of "no-teaching" time. They just don't pay enough to get me into the classroom the last 2 weeks of school. I will be in Seattle to do some grocery shopping for Barb's shower with Lynne and Anita. Saturday is the wine shower, as the beginning to the month's celebrating of Barb's wedding. June 12 is the day they have set for the actual marriage- pretty exciting. I look forward to being all together on the weekend of June 27 for family insanity. It will be a small dinner group on Sunday and I know there will be thoughtful words spoken by my children. With good luck and health we might even get to fit in a Monday visit to Kyrsa's wine tasting cellar before dispersal. I know it has been a busy month for us all and the summer holds challenges too but I for one will try to write more important in interesting thoughts like the ones I have had recently concerning oil and energy resource distribution through out the world. I know you are all waiting with baited breath for that! Have a great month beginning the summer-

Mama LLama

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chicken Tractor or Bust

May has been a very fast month! I have been working at school more than I ever should. Way too many students know my name and I know way to many students by name. The other day I discovered that I am referred to as "the sweater sub"! At least this is the name they say without getting suspended.

The best part of May is always Mother's Day, which coincided this year with Erin's birthday, so it was REALLY Mother's Day for me. I can't say often enough how very proud I am to be the mother of three of the best people I know. It astounds me that I have had a part in their lives and their adventures. Their constant gifts to me is that they continue to take on new challenges and make new adventures to share. (Like watching a suspense-filled movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat!) On Sunday Dave and Kyrsa made a great dinner and Seattle offered sunshine and warm weather. We drank wine and ate in the sun, pretending we were on the Mediterranean- the best any day can offer.

What with teaching all day and rain visiting too many nights, my garden is over run with weeds BUT the chickens are finally out of the basement. (It will take a good week to get rid of the dust.) The building of the chicken tractor took place Bloomsday weekend (the first weekend in May) while David was in Spokane. It was much more difficult that expected even though I thought long and hard before starting.

I was able to use many 2x2's from the A-frame remodel but the big mistake was using the heavy plywood suggestted by the plan. Even with 2 sets of wheels, it is quite difficult to move. This may end up as the winter hutch placed next to the rabbit hutch after I construct the lighter model for summer. I know a few more tricks now!

The chickens seem pretty happy scratching at the grass and the grubs. Tonight when David helped me by putting both sets of wheels under the tractor, all 6 chicken escaped through the big gap. They were so amazed by all the interesting sights that I was able to catch them and return them to safety, but I will have to start training them to follow the grain!!

As most chicken owners have recounted, chicken are quite entertaining- in the way that watching a train wreck captures your attention. They are certainly NOT the most intelligent of animals. When they first entered their new digs, they had a hard time figuring out that food could be found in that big red dish. Eventually they get it and even without chicken feed, they are entertained by the bits and pieces they find on the ground. So, now the chicken tractor is home and I am done with 2 long weeks in school. We have all survived! David and I leave tomorrow for a short trip to Vancouver and I can only pray the tractor will remain secure.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Sky is Falling

It is hard to believe that I have been home for more than 2 weeks. Where does the time go? Here in Kingston the garden and the loom have been the biggest usurpers of my time. The weeds are growing despite or because of the pouring rain. The worst part is my continued efforts to add more garden space rather than less. Somehow my brain can not compute the space/time ratio correctly. I guess all the days teaching "everyday math" classes isn't helping me much.

The temperatures are low even for the Pacific Northwest but on the good side, the lilacs and rhodies are lasting longer than usual. They are always my favorite harbinger of Spring. The Spokane Lilac festival marked the beginning of warm weather in my youth so lilacs continue to hold all kinds of good omens for me.

David made his annual pilgrimage to Spokane for the Bloomsday Race giving me three days to myself to start the BIG project! I have been putting off the chicken tractor but this last weekend it all started. The Chicks are growing through adolescence. They will soon be ready to head into the big world, outside the basement. It can't be soon enough because they are sending dust to every possible surface. It will take me a week to clean once they are gone. I am just thankful they are finally out of the kitchen!!

The chicken tractor grew much larger than expected due to my own machinations, but I hope all will be manageable when I add the removable wheels! Why do I imagine these projects will work? By the time I had hauled, sawed, pounded and tweaked for 48 hours, my hand was paralyzed into a claw. Only Tiger Balm and a handful of aspirin made it possible to weed on Sunday.

I am going to keep the final product a mystery for a little longer- this weekend will be painting and final touches including chicken wire and chickens, so watch closely for next week's posting. The unveiling is scheduled for Sunday. I want the chicks in their new home for a week before David and I head to Canada to celebrate his birthday with a little get-away.

In the meantime, I am working the next 2 weeks in the high school which is simultaneously great and wretched. I have too much I want to accomplish at home, to include working! On that front, I had another funny experience from the subbing world. Picking up fresh eggs at the Suquamish farmer's market, the young man running the garden booth asked "Is you last name Dixon?".
I immediately wanted to say "NO- and I have no children" but in a weak moment admitted to the fact. He recalled that I had been his substitute at CK! There is no place to hide for the wicked.

On that note, be well and have a great week. Build a great year by remembering that each day is the best day of this year.

Mama Llama