Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Then and Now

A short time ago I posted about my first trip to Norway as a foreign exchange student. Gary found these delightful pics in his archives of Mimmi and me. I thought you might enjoy seeing how "little" has changed between two "sisters" over the years.

Mimmi & Me in Summer 1979

Mimmi & Me Summer 2006

Monday, June 29, 2009

Hark! Who Crows There?

"Mom," said a sleepy-eyed Rachel,
"I think I heard a rooster crowing at dawn this morning."

I froze. My palms began to get sweaty.

"Oh no . . . " I whispered,
"Can it be that we have lost the chickie lottery?
Have we a rooster in the sorority?"

I quickly Bing-ed "Australorpe Hen Crow"

Hmmmm . . . several entries.

Well, what do you know . . .

According to some, a dominant hen will begin crowing in the absence of a rooster. Furthermore, this begins occurring as early as 2 months of age (ours are about 2-1/2 months old). Many eyewitness accounts backed up this assertion, including some very entertaining clips on YouTube of full-fledged laying hens crowing like a fancy rooster.

Rachel studied the clips and pronounced that
the filmed roosters' cock-a-doodle-doo weren't what she heard,
but the choked, gasping squawk-a-doodle of the hens
sounded about right.

The following morning Lydia heard the "charming" wake-up-call
and pronounced it strained and garbled,
unlike the rooster calls we had witnessed.

Is it just possible that we have a cock-a-doodling hen?
(Wishful thinking, maybe?)

"NO!" shout some experts,
denouncing such a notion as poppycock,
flatly stating, "If it crows it is a rooster.
Pop it in the pot now and save yourself a heap of trouble!"

(Oh dear! I wasn't planning on Cock-a-Doodle Stew.)

Another contributor soothes the worried chicken-novice in me by noting that Australorpes are such a tame breed that the roosters get along just fine with the gals and should be kept in the group with the hopes that he will multiply your flock for free.

Hmmmm . . . hadn't really counted on any of this.
Just wanted some laying hens.

Decisions, decisions . . .

And so, I reviewed all of the tell-tale signs of rooster-ness versus hen-ness noting the differences in feathers, tails, combs, etc. One claims shiny feathers are ALWAYS males, yet our chicken breed boasts shiny blue-black or purple-black or even green-black feathers. Another says look at the temperament and you can tell right away who is the valiant one protecting the rest. Nope! They are all "chickens." (guffaw!)

Lastly a commenter suggested you throw a frisbee overhead and see who ducks for cover (hens) and who stands to fight (rooster). Surely he jests. My chickies are simply clueless about real life. They run around like children at recess -- no organization among these birds.

What to do?

Is it you Miss Bossy Britches?
You are obviously the eldest and most developed.

Or maybe it is you, Freckles.
You may have lost your speckled kerchief, but not your independence.

Sharon? Susan?
Which is which?
Does either of you have a set of spurs a-foot?
Oh bother, this annoys me.
I can't see any tell-tale sign
amidst these disparate tail-feather fashions
Or multi-sheened coats of feathers.

"Wait ladies! I'm not finished . . .
I can't tell this from that while you are standing still . . . If you take off I'll have to start all over again!"

Oh bother!

I guess I'll simply keep my eye on this flock of beauties
And see what happens.

So far . . .
I'm betting we've got a loud and bossy female drill sergeant.
But only time will tell.

Anyone care to take a guess?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

How Was Your Weekend?

Despite grueling temps into the high 90s
(Did someone say low 100s?),
We managed to have a blast!

We feasted on
Hawaiian BBQ chicken,
Watermelon/coconut/arugula salad,
and an assortment of fresh fruits and veggies . . .

Along with the lightest, fluffiest
"Touch of Grace" biscuits I have ever tasted!

My adaptation to 100% whole wheat succeeded,
Meriting the 475-degree oven use in this heat.

(Crazy, I know! But YUMMY!!
I'll share the recipe soon.)

Nothing cries "Summertime" like
Berries, Berries, Berries!

We paused briefly to digest the feast
Before making our way out to the pool
Just as twilight descended
(too hot before the sun relaxed).

No hesitation as everyone plunged into the sparkling water.

Okay . . .
I hesitated just a smidge on the steps
before joining the "cool" crowd.


Not only cool, but talented.

(Look out Rockettes . . .
The Bubble-ettes have arrived!)

Some were so cool that they opted for the spa right off.

Then Mom showed up . . .

(Note the smile -- whew!)

Soaking it all in . . .

So much fun fills the memory banks . . .

So many bloggy thoughts to share . . .

SO MUCH material to work with . . .

How did you beat the heat and find your smile this past weekend?

Sunday Wonder

And on the seventh day
God ended his work which he had made;
And he rested on the seventh day.

Genesis 2:2

Friday, June 26, 2009

Perfectly Imperfect

“We don’t all live a Fairytale, you know!” sobbed a dear friend who sat at my table wailing of life’s injustices as I poured cup after cup of tea in another cottage during days gone by.

“Did she mean to imply I did live a fairytale existence?” I wondered in surprise as I mentally cataloged my life:

- Five young children (two with special needs)
- Husband I adore but rarely see due to work demands
- Budget screaming BANKRUPT at every turn
- Emotional baggage of sufficient quantity to sink a life
- And on the list grew . . .

Many years have passed and my children have grown significantly, my husband works at the jobs he chooses while occupying an office on our property, my budget stopped squeaking, and the baggage return emptied of much extraneous debris . . . and yet I still find much that belies a fairytale, despite the charge that still comes my way on occasion.

Now, I will not lie and say my life sags and groans with burdensome sorrows and such, but in an effort to “Keep It Real” around here, I felt I must speak up and say:


[Hmmmm . . . I thought I would feel magically better somehow. If this were a fairytale that would have worked.]

Absent pixie dust or a magic wand, I have only to keep hanging on to God’s proffered hand and slop through the sludgey-ness while looking for something to celebrate rather than dwell on the gripes. Gripes like . . . a nasty infection on Lydia’s leg, which the pediatrician “on call” at our regular office diagnosed as MRSA and treated accordingly. Did I mention that he was wrong BUT THE OFFICE FAILED TO CALL WHEN THE TESTS CAME BACK NEGATIVE, or that the bill reflects a “NEW” patient charge – we have been with this group the entire nine years we have lived in this town? When I called to “correct” this error the assistant informed me that it had been several years since Lydia had been seen and thus they had to update her files and charge the “new patient” fee per standard billing practice. “Does that make us a new patient?” I queried, “I thought updating was standard procedure with patients. It seems to me you are penalizing us for remaining healthy.” She sympathized but did not remove the fee. Now I know why they didn’t accept Rachel’s updated info at the same time I updated Lydia’s chart, but preferred to wait for her next visit.

But I blather on without brightening the story by admitting that this $20 poke prompted me to do something I had been planning to do for some time—namely, remove all of my kids from the pediatrics mill in town to the wonderful family practitioner that Gary and I see when needed. Why did I wait so long? Because . . . I did. : (

So, that chewed up some of the joy-factor in the past several days, but resulted in good. How, I wonder, can a lost credit card statement with a late fee attached feel good? Well, it doesn’t and I fumed. Being particular about details and budgets (I am the Chief Financial Officer, after all), I constantly battle the whims of having an absent-minded professor for a husband/business partner who never frets over money or fees or any other foible of money. “It’s just money,” he shrugs. (*GULP!*)

Dare I even mention the blown valve on the propane tank last night that cancelled out Elizabeth’s invite to join her for a soak in the hot, bubbly spa for some girl talk? Further resulting in a total lack of hot water – read: “No Showers” – until today when the valve was checked and given the okay. And by the way . . . why did it blow in the first place? Reply: [SHRUG.] “It just happens.” FUME! And then . . .

STOP! I need to hit the pause button and get a grip. Are you reading what I am writing here? I just read it over and I cringed. With all the terrible stuff going on in the world and in the lives of those I know and in the lives of those I may never meet . . . I am griping because my spa couldn’t be heated. Now that’s SAD!

BUT . . .

I know these sniveling complaints merely distract me from the deeper fears and worries and woes and failures right here in my own life and heart. I prefer to sulk over a lack of comfort rather than address my real issues . . . because I can’t do anything to change them. Now I know I should simply turn all this fretting over to the Lord and let Him take care of me and the situation. That would alleviate the grumpiness building in my heart, but it doesn’t happen when I hang onto it. Lately, I’ve been hanging onto the little gripes and ruining goodly parts of each day. Why? It just happens sometimes, I guess. Regardless of why, I needed to switch gears . . .

Last night Gary took me out to dinner and then we sat down to watch Mamma Mia. I hadn’t rushed to see it when it came out despite the rave reviews, because I’d also heard some warnings of moral failure in the film. Hmmmmm . . . last night I decided to take a $2.50 chance and give it a go. With my twirly azure-blue print skirt topped by a white peasanty blouse, and full knowledge of the ABBA catalog of lyrics, I felt like a member of the chorus as I sang and danced my way through the frothy, colorful bit of nonsense that made me laugh out loud and shed a tear. Without the confession/forgiveness between mother and daughter I may have found it severely lacking, but that salvaged the earlier foibles somewhat and I enjoyed the party. Did Pierce Brosnan’s singing make me cringe? Yes, a wee bit, but the sweetness of his courage to belt it out in love touched me, for I married a man who can only carry a tune in a bucket. (Once long-long ago as a shy young suitor he sang sweetly to me. It was truly awful . . . and I loved every minute of it!)

As the mom laments over how quickly the daughter has grown up, my daughter Elizabeth turned to me and said, “Does it really go that fast mom?”

I stopped . . . a tear welled up . . .

"You can’t believe how fast it goes,” I choked up in reply.

I realized that it has gone far too quickly even for a mamma that chose to stay home each day to raise her children and keep her home. I used to joke, on those most tiring days, that I wished for a cryogenic chamber to pop my Littles into so that they would stop growing temporarily while I rested, thus I wouldn’t miss a bit of their precious growing years while I recovered from the day-to-day dose of living with them constantly. Sometimes, I confess, I wish I could freeze the blogdom so that I could keep up with all of you and your wonderful lives without losing track of all I have and do and experience here in my own life. Of late I just can’t make it around to everyone in a timely fashion (and some of you share so much and so frequently!), and I must just accept that. Just as I must accept all these little and BIG blots in my “Fairytale” life.

I admit I love my life and its road to Happily-Ever-After . . . even on those days when the Ogres roar and the slimy bogs sing with danger. So, will I ever learn to merely pass by the singing bog of *blech* without stopping by to orchestrate the song and tidy up the details before I journey on? My great-grandmother always said, “Let go and let God” (I think she learned that from attending al-anon meetings to help her alcoholic sons). Today I shall attempt again to let go the gripes and enjoy the joy.

As I cruise around the blogdom I find such sweetness and kindred feelings as each one of you opens your perfectly imperfect life up for a little visit. Your words encourage me, uplift me, touch me, call me to prayer, and beckon me to let go the ropes of slog and join in the celebration of life lived in the Palm of a Loving God who doesn’t expect us to be perfect. (In fact, He already knew how imperfect we would be and made plans accordingly.)

I dedicate this picture of two perfectly imperfect roses from my garden to all of you, my precious bloggy friends. When I took this picture I thought, “There’s a fine picture of friendship – full of holes yet exuding the most delicious aroma (maybe even becoming more aromatic due to the extra ventilation)."

Thank you, dear friends, for the gifts so sweet I find waiting for me at each of your blogsites.


Lydia just returned from a visit to the family practitioner who believes that the infection stems from a spider bite gone bad. (Dare I mention that when we visited the first doctor I offered that we believed it to be a spider bite?)

Oh well, I'm dedicating this day to celebrating my perfectly imperfect life; and so I will forgive the "imperfect" diagnosis and celebrate that our daughter's leg heals "perfectly" well despite it all.

Now, I'm off to the gardens for more sweetness . . .

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Respite Wednesday

Summer's arrived . . .

The table on the deck is all set . . .

Let's eat!

(It's too hot to cook inside today . . . but I'm not complaining.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gentle Harvest

How quickly a year has passed . . .

Last June 23rd I sat next to Elizabeth as she guided me into the world of cyber journaling. When she hit “Publish” my heart went into PANIC!

“Wait! Not yet!” I blurted.

“Too late,” she grinned, knowing all too well that her mother would dither forever about opening wide the doorway to her home and gardens and family and heart-thoughts.

She knew.

Without her publishing push and Karen Deborah’s nagging steady encouragement, I never would have unlocked the gate and let you in for a peek.

For years upon years I have kept journals, written letters (some never intended to be read by a recipient), scribbled stories, recorded memories, and dreamed big dreams that never even make it to print as I freely spin away dancing and singing in the gardens or in the kitchen or reclining in a tub of bubbles. “A dream is a wish your heart makes,” sings Cinderella; my heart works overtime in the dreams department . . . it always has.

As a little girl I would lay in bed before sleep overtook me and imagine the way things could be. As I imagined I made some plans. Many fell away but some took root and became part of my life. This little blog sprouted from one of those seeds dropped to grow a connecting place for family, which produced a most unexpected harvest of new friends who came bearing their dreaming hearts. I wander freely through blogs filled with ideas, hopes, dreams, events, hurts, and so much more. I read and smile knowingly or gasp in astonishment or laugh uproariously or drop to my knees in prayer. Without knowing it, that “Publish” moment planted rows of dreams that have yielded a gentle harvest of such goodness.

Over the course of the past year I nearly pulled my blog down several times as I wrestled with the time commitment, the expectations, the comment dilemma (keep it and not worry who comes – close it and wonder if anyone comes), and all the other logistics of publishing from the heart. I have also begged off from playing tag or contesting or meme-ing or chasing after comments – it just doesn’t feel right for me, though I find nothing wrong with any of it (kinda like garage sailing or not . . . I don’t, but others do and love the thrill – different strokes . . . ).

I wandered in the wilderness at some stages in the growth of Wisteria and Roses – mostly due to technical ignorance – but determined to learn one new thing every time I sat down to blog (today I learned to use the “strike out” mode). I still chafe a bit that I had to forgo naming my blog Wisteria Cottage, as I had planned; some other person nabbed the name before I entered the scene, but closed down their blog without releasing the name. : (
Adjusting, learning, falling down, trying again, laughing, crying, hoping, praying . . . I look back and see baskets brimming with so much I have gained over this past year’s “experiment” in blogging.

Yes, I set out to “experiment” for a year. I figured if I had anything worthwhile to say it would surely take no more than a year, BUT – I found that blogging means so much more than merely saying something or even showing something. (Did I mention I had ZERO photography skills before I began blogging – NADA! I relied on Gary and Elizabeth for every pic and edit in those early days!)

Blogging, for me, serves as more than a sounding board or a “show-and-tell” session, though it often involves that and I LOVE the way bloggers share so freely of what they know or do or feel. When I hop from blog to blog I “visit.” When people pop in to see me, I want them to feel welcome and invited in for a little respite and just a peek into another way of walking the path. My journey differs from your journey and maybe, just maybe, that stretches our hearts a wee bit more than we expected to a very good end.

When I read of life in Australia or Norway or France or Canada or The South or The North or even right across town, I cast my focus away from what I know and live, and find another’s pathway. Maybe it contains a garden of the hottest colors and most robust annuals, which bears no resemblance to my dreams for my own garden, but I find joy in the visit nonetheless. Foods, d├ęcor, lifestyle, fashion, childrearing, faith, politics, and all the rest spill forth from blogs and I have found the breaths of fresh air bracing and exhilarating. I love blogging!

So, I guess you have guessed that my “one year” experiment has expired and will have no effect on my blogging habits. I will continue to blog at whim about whatever crosses my heart and spills over to share. My children delight in sharing (some more than others) and the bounty of my garden and table provide lots of inspiration for posts. The natural flow of memories continues to grace this blog with stories and celebrations from today, yesterday, and way back when without showing signs of waning. In short, my blog will ramble and tumble and dance and sing as it always has. My arms spread out to catch the gentle harvest from your thoughts and dreams and all the rest without an expiration date.

And so, when you peek through the garden gate at Wisteria and Roses I will be here to welcome you with a steeping teapot and a plumped cushion in a waiting chair. Shall I pour out as we take a pause from our busy lives and simply visit?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Midsummer Musing

Today marks the longest day of the year – a holiday in our home. As a child I never knew such a magical day existed. Sure, I had heard about the equinox in Science class, but no one in my family gave it much mention; and we surely never “celebrated” this day attributed to Pagan rites. The longest day was just that . . . loooong and I still had to go to bed at the prescribed time, regardless of how much sun poured through the organza criss-cross curtains of my room. At age 17 that all changed and a new holiday entered my life.

As I packed my bags to set off for a summer’s stay in Norway, I wondered about all the “newness” but also feared I would miss so much at home. Dilemma and worry tried to fill the empty crevices in my carry-on luggage (and my heart). I knew not where I would be living, as the Host family cancelled at the last minute and I received a hastily scrawled “form” stating new family information (much of which proved to be incorrect, I later learned). Nonetheless I continued packing and preparing for an adventure I had been planning for months. In the days leading up to my departure, my mom and grandmother panicked at the thought of letting me go. They warned me of all manner of “slavery” and planted fears by the bushel in my innocent heart.

I remained steadfast in my plans to jet away to parts unknown. I felt no fear as I whisked away into the night. We left at 11 pm from San Francisco and it was dark. Little did I know I wouldn’t see dark night again until I returned home in late August.

Several long flights criss-crossing the US and then one looooooonger charter over the ocean dropped me into Norway about 9 am some morning later. (I lost track of time along the way.) I disembarked, exhausted but excited. I “checked in” with the local leader and he scanned his clipboard for my name. “Hmmmmm . . .” he muttered, “Says here you cancelled your trip.” “Clearly not,” I replied, luggage in hand – I felt like Anne of Green Gables before Matthew Cuthbert showed up, as I informed him that another family had been chosen for me. “Okay, don’t worry,” he said off-handedly (just a hint of skepticism fringing his voice), “My mom has a spare room for you if nobody shows up for you.” I choked back a tear and scanned the faces of those coming and greeting the other students. “They’ll be here,” I muttered confidently.

Time passed and I sat down atop my banana yellow (brand new) American Tourister Soft-Sider luggage. I crushed the top, but didn’t notice, my heart beating faster as the crowd of kids dwindled. The check-in guy looked over and smiled. I smiled back and took a deep breath. Hope his mom is nice . . .

Suddenly a woman with strawberry blond hair, cropped short, and the sweetest accent came calling “Deeebie? I’m looking for Deeebie.” I popped up and fairly ran to claim my family. Apologies flowed about the traffic and how late they had arrived. I just grinned and waved goodbye to the organizer as my yellow valise disappeared into the trunk of a robin’s egg blue Saab and whisked me away down the road to . . . whatever happened to lay at the end of the road.

My exhaustion evaporated as I scanned the landscape in awe. I couldn’t believe I had actually left home and traveled far across the globe to find houses and roads and trees and all the rest so familiar. It looked like Lake Tahoe!

We pulled up to a modest little brown house surrounded by a vegetable garden in a neighborhood so similar and yet entirely different from home. I plopped my luggage in “my room” and set out on a hike through the forest with Mimmi, the 15-year-old daughter who spoke not a word to me . . . for a long time.

We gathered berries for supper as we wandered through the fairytale-like woods filled with mossy stones, freshets flowing fast with icy-cold water, and berries by the score along needled pathways in dappled shade. We walked and walked and walked, then returned home for a simple yet delicious meal that I barely stayed awake through. After dinner, at 7:30 pm, I fell asleep and slept until 9:30 am the next morning. Since it was light when I fell asleep and equally bright when I awoke, I assumed I had taken a two-hour nap. Not so. My refreshed body danced in the light and eagerly wondered what the day held.

The house lay quiet as Pappa and Mamma (as they would soon be known to me) had gone off to work – he at the water and power company as an engineer, she as a clerk in a local bookshop. Hungry, yet ignorant as to how to slice the bread with that dangerous-looking contraption, I waited for Mimmi to emerge from her room. I waited and waited . . . She emerged sleepy-eyed and tight-lipped some time later. We ate bread and cheese, bread and apple preserves, bread and smashed berries – yep, just smash those raspberries onto the fresh bread with the back of a fork. Sublime. Incredible. (Just finished my last bite of the same as I sit here on my deck sipping tea and rambling away on this keyboard.)

What would today hold? I wondered. Another walk through the forest, I would soon learn. Mimmi said precious little and I had the distinct feeling she intended to exhaust me into returning to the US. Mamma had mentioned on the drive home that Mimmi had suffered disappointment that her trip to the mountains with friends had to be cancelled due to her asthma flaring up. They called for a summer exchange student at the last minute as a way to cheer her up. Inwardly I groaned when I heard this. This morning as I walked and walked I wondered if she would pass the entire summer without engaging me in conversation. But then slowly she began to talk and ask questions and note that I might not be such a drag on her summer plans. (Skip ahead – we became lifelong friends . . . sisters, really. I’m so glad she decided to give me a chance.)

Ummmmmm . . . you may be wondering . . . where does the part about the Summer Solstice come in? Right now, you see this second walk happened on the Solstice.

When Mamma and Pappa arrived home from work later that day we ate a quick meal and then piled in the car to go into Oslo for the celebrations. “Celebrations?” I wondered, “What are they celebrating?” The streets teemed with well-wishers. Though becoming late evening, the sunlight shined as brightly as the afternoon. Crowds of people spilled from the parks and clearings and gardens everywhere. Huge piles of wood dotted the groupings of folks. I learned that bonfires would be set as the evening progressed. I drank it all in without a clue about any of it. We attended a musical celebrating the Summer Solstice traditions in Norway. I thought, “Good, now I’ll learn the roots of this joyful celebration.” The curtain went up: Lively music, famous actors, 100% Norwegian dialog. (Did I mention that I spoke one word: “Tak” = Thank You?) I fell asleep partway through.

I awoke to a gentle rousing as Mamma clucked that maybe we should return home as it may be too much for “Deebie.” I shook my head “No,” perked up and begged to keep going. We walked around in the “night” (now well past 10 o’clock pm, maybe even 11) but it remained bright and clear. It wasn’t “Sunny” but more like “the brightness of nearly-twilight.” Bonfires raged though darkness had not fallen. People sang, ate, sang some more, and called greetings to all who passed by. I truly felt I had awoken in a Rip-Van-Winkle-esque moment. And I have never forgotten it. I loved it!

We returned home late in the night (still light) and I fell into slumber. The next day I awoke feeling at home. I belonged. Mimmi greeted me at breakfast with a cheerful “Halloo! Good morning!” and my heart sang. “I’m Norwegian,” I thought, “Not just because my Great-Grandfather Hans (who died just months after my birth) came from Norway to America at age 16 with a wooden box of necessaries and a heartful of BIG DREAMS, but because I am living in this moment in this place and it feels so right.

The year after I went to Norway Mimmi came to visit me. She arrived at the Midsummer but I had no celebrations to share with her. We made our own. To this day I eagerly await the Summer Solstice, planning a delicious Norwegian menu to be eaten out under the trees as the folktunes particular to Norway fill the long evening. Our sun does set, but later than at any other time of the year. I sit out and drink in the twilight (always my favorite time of day) as I remember that discovery of the Midsummer in Norway so long ago.

I have rambled on for oh so long! (Kudos to those of you that stuck with me.) My blog spills over with me and my life . . . this memory came like a flood and carried me away on the wings of delight.

But now, I must be off this box and onto the business of preparing for the loooongest day of the year. We’ve much to celebrate and be thankful for. I know the celebration has Pagan roots, but for me the celebration has a different set of roots. The Midsummer will always remind me of that wonderful gateway to the joys of life without fears. To taking chances. To meeting “newness” with a smile and lots of hope and courage. To reaching for a dream . . . even if you didn’t know that’s what you were doing . . . and finding it.

And now I really must be off to drag the table out under the big oak tree, pick some blueberries and raspberries from my woods, and dig out that Norwegian folk CD. (I’ve already got my clogs on, I wear them every day.)

Hade bra!” (Have it well)

Sunday Wonder

Thou hast made summer . . .
Psalm 74:17b

Thank you, Dear Lord.

I wouldn't want to mislead anyone . . . the bowl of cherries is not from my trees, but rather from a friendly organic vendor at the Saturday morning Farmer's Market here in town.

The tree, however, stands in my gardens and feeds the birds nicely. : D

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Coop With A View

All manner of construction had been completed, including the birdnetting overhead . . .

. . . to make sure this guy and his ghoulish friends didn't descend and spoil the chicks' party . . .

But the party couldn't begin until the warm breaths of a Summer's day filled the evening with balmy comfort for our Spring Chicks. Our little ladies had not grown accustomed to chilly nights yet, and so they played out in the day, returning each eve to the warmth of our home. We jokingly referred to it as the Peck 'n' Scratch B&B. (Though once they they began playing outdoors all day they came in and flopped down to sleep just like little children after an all-day play in the park.)

Finally Summer peeked out and gave us the nod.

The simple Shasta Daisy always heralds summer's arrival in these parts.

So despite my utter enjoyment in the cool spring-like days, I welcomed the warmth and the end to indoor chickies. (I'd say this air purifier sums it up pretty well. YUCK!)

A custom home featuring a room for each gal and plenty of onsight catering served as a welcome sight for the flock as they moved to the country.

They gave the inside a thorough inspection, clucking their approval with each peck and scratch,

Then proceeded to explore the gardens, enjoying the stonescaping as each one vied to climb higher than the other or dig deeper. (I hope all of this competition plays out in unparalleled egg production.)

Miss Bossy Britches (affectionately referred to as B.B., though she is one bossy chick), gave the final cluck of approval as all the chicks retreated into the cottage. The door (on top of the coop) slides firmly into place with a padlock for protection. Our crafty raccoons will not be picking locks and freeing these girls.

Oh wait! Before you close that door make sure Freckles isn't off on an adventure. She may have lost her easily identifiable freckles (all the grown-up feathers have arrived and the chicks look pretty much the same now), but her wanderlust personality makes her easy to spot. B.B. tries to keep her with the flock, but rarely do we see Miss Freckles among the gang. Generally she is out while they are in and she is up on a rock when they are settled down in the shade of the trees for a siesta. Any wonder why Rachel favors this kindred?

Ah yes, before any chicken plantation can be counted complete one must be sure to include a "Watch Cat."

Mr. Bingley sits on guard at the entrance but has made no attempt to enter the compound. Personally, I think he is watching out for our safety as we enter in amongst those flighty feathered things who squawk and scratch and behave in a most undignified manner according to cat etiquette. Once we leave the pen and journey back to the house the cats follow suit and leave the chicks to their clique.

And so another sunset takes place here at Wisteria Cottage as we continue learning and discovering and re-evaluating all that goes into farmin' in a dell here in Grass Valley.

Frankly, this is one day I plan to put up my feet and celebrate another milestone in the "growing" years in this family.

Aaaaahhhhh the SWEET smell of success!

"Night, night little country chicks."