Posted in Family, Home

A Tattooed Chicken-Farmer in Heat (Wait, that didn’t come out right…)

Keoni’s thermometer at work last night. No, it’s not stuck in a hot dish—the KITCHEN was 118 degrees F!

Okay, okay: “A Tattooed Chicken-Farmer in THE Heat.” That’s what I meant. (Though our teenager, who has learned to approach our door warily if he arrives home unexpectedly, might vote for the original…)

Point is, it’s HOT in high-desert Idaho in the summer. Too hot to think. Too hot to remember all the, um… the little thingy-words that should go in the title. (Too hot to remember what we call the little thingy-words… Oh, articles! Yeah, those.)

It’s just. Damn Hot.

Elena Grace avoiding “bad form”

As if to psychically second what I was just typing… Christian is giving his sister instructions for using the iPad’s App Shopper to find new games: “There you go, yeah. For device you pick ‘iPad,’ for the price you pick ‘Free,’ and for categories you pick ‘Games’.”

I piped up with the motherly suggestion that the “Education” category also includes a lot of games, to which he replied with narrowed eyes, “Mom, it’s Summer! That would be bad form!”

[Who taught this mouthy kid to talk like that, anyway?   …Oh.]

Did I mention that it’s too hot for thinking?

Using my fancy watering-can to try and keep plants from shriveling with heat. Thinking of trying it on My People as well.

So today, here’s a mishmash jumble of odds-and-ends that haven’t made it into the blog in the last few weeks. Along with thanks to my friend Le Clown for the “tattooed chicken-farmer” moniker, which had the whole family giggling this morning!

The Art of Scrounging

I wrote recently about the much-maligned art of Packrat-ism, but hadn’t put a name to the activity that precedes Packrat-ing—namely, Scrounging.

Scrounge, v.  Finding cool shit in unlikely places.

our “scrounged” beach cart

Keoni is a master at this. Particularly if you expand that (highly technical) definition to include creative use of materials-at-hand to meet needs for which they weren’t originally designed… (Witness, for example, my “watering can” above.)

Just for fun, here’s a (partial) list of his scrounging-successes just in the last few weeks:

  • A folding cart that’s perfect for rolling our beach-stuff (cooler, portable BBQ, chairs, towels) from the car to the beach. Or, for that matter, from our house to the beach when the car has accompanied Keoni to work. There used to be a roadside vegetable stand near us, and this cart was among the things they abandoned when they closed up…
  • A 55-gallon soy-sauce barrel from a restaurant supply company, which is now destined to become our compost barrel. After we finish the chicken-house.
  • Christian demonstrating a Taekwondo move with his raft-pole

    Basaltic boulders (cleared from a construction site) to build our planned backyard fire-pit.

  • A metal fence-post for Christian to use in poling his inner-tube around the lake. (He tried a tree-branch walking-stick but punctured his ride almost immediately with one of its branch stubs…)
  • A bicycle. When he offered to help our neighbor Chuck, a disabled vet, to assemble the bike-bits leaning against his porch, Chuck said he intended to donate it… Well, we’ve been looking for a bike!
  • All the wood for our chicken-house project (including the house-shaped end pieces, from the same abandoned fruit stand). He came home on several occasions with two-by-fours strapped to the side of the car as if the Buick had taken up jousting…
  • …And speaking of Bessie Buick, several replacement bits for her dinged front end—and a pair of jumper cables!—from the “Jalopy Jungle” junkyard…
  • I appropriated one of the firepit-rocks to paint this “warning” for our front steps…

    Leftover wooden fence-post pieces from a ranch down the road, now sliced into different heights and standing on end to edge the boardwalk leading up to our house…

  • Stackable plastic soda crates (our grocery store let us take them) which have served in turn as craft table, fan stand, outdoor seating, and sawhorse…
  • Leftover tar paper from a nearby paving-job, perfect for use as a weed barrier underneath…
  • …the starter beds of wildflowers we’ve dug up from various places, and herbs we’ve transplanted.

In my previous life I would have gone straight to the store when I wanted any of these things—even the damn landscaping rocks—but this is WAY more satisfying.

Father-Son Bonding & Glitter Nail Polish

how Guys remove nail polish

Our teenage son stood in our bedroom doorway the other night and announced that he had to ask us a serious question.

[Parental attention engaged!]

“Do my toes match my outfit?”

As it turns out, his girlfriend had painted his toenails for him. And as it turns out, glitter nail polish is a bitch to remove. My nail polish remover was no match for the stuff… but luckily the stuff was no match for Dad’s pocket knife.

How [not] to Repel a Brother

Christian pointed out to Elena Grace the other day that she might want to re-think how she labeled her diary if she really didn’t want anyone to read it. I noticed the next morning she had done some editing:

Before & After the Brotherly Advice


Christian reading in his tent-fort

I think it’s been about four months since either of the younger kids have actually slept in their beds.

Around Spring Break our daughter and her wife visited from California, and we shuffled around the sleeping arrangements for a few days with the younger kids in “tent-forts” in the living room. Christian’s tent-fort, under a U.S. Marine Corps blanket draped across the corner of the room, has been there ever since. We moved Elena Grace’s tent-fort into her bedroom after the Cali-kids left, draped between her desk and chair. We laugh about the fact that she’s not using her perfectly-good bed… But it did make things easy when my mom visited—Elena Grace was already installed in her tent, with the unused bed waiting for Grandy.

Christian’s tent-occupation is, to some extent, a matter of privacy. That might seem counter-intuitive, since he’s planted right in the middle of the household now, but unlike his sister, he had a shared room—and suffice it to say that the sleep-habits of 11-year-olds and 16-year-olds are not a perfect match. Christian wakes early to read, but didn’t want to disturb his brother by turning on his lamp. Kapena comes home late from work or friends’ homes and was less observant about how his entrances affected Christian’s sleep.

Elena Grace in her tent-fort, before it got too HOT for flannel pajamas

Even at his dad’s house where he has a room to himself, I don’t think he feels it’s HIS room anymore. He has never been a guy who enjoyed surprises, so he was kind of traumatized when he arrived after a weekend with us to find his furniture replaced, his favorite reading-chair sitting in the street with the trash, and some of his favorite things mysteriously missing. (The kids have noted several times how assiduously their stepmother erases traces of ME in that household… And the reading chair had belonged to my grandfather.)

So bit by bit, Christian has been bringing his most Special Things to this household, and setting them up in his tent-fort where they’re safe.  Remarking on the fact that we allow him the permanent occupation of a living-room corner, he told me the other day that I’m “not really a traditional kind of Mom.”  Um… Thanks?

When it’s TOO HOT…

There’s only one place for a tattooed chicken-farmer and her family to go. We pack up our little scrounged cart and get our scorched butts to the beach.

Living in a climate that ranges from (Fahrenheit) five degrees in the winter to one-hundred-five in the summer, we sometimes think wistfully of the consistently temperate weather back in Hawai’i… But we’ve also learned not to lose out on the joys of Today by living in our  heads anticipating something different. Just think what we’d miss!—Today. Hot as it is, still a day with our ‘Ohana.


I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

30 thoughts on “A Tattooed Chicken-Farmer in Heat (Wait, that didn’t come out right…)

  1. Love the scrounging part of this post. Sounds a lot like me–aways finding something to drag home–free. But, actually, Sara and I both enjoy dumpster diving.

    Love your writing, Kana–beautiful–and so, so readable.

    Enjoy the beach.



  2. If it is any consolation (I realise it probably won’t be) it is cold here in Ireland. Not just raining – it always rains here – but central-heating-for-an-hour-most-nights cold. Right now it is overcast and 16 degrees and tonight it will be 9 degrees (something like 60-47 fahrenheit??) – which is pretty cold for July, even in Ireland. Everybody here – and in England, Wales and Scotland – is longing for a glimpse of the sun. Good old global warming. I realise most people who are suffering from having their country turned into a desert because of climate change would swap with me in a heart-beat so I don’t mean to whinge (much) – still just a couple of days of sunshine and heat might be nice…

    Very nice chicken house by the way!


    1. If only we could “barter” some bits of our weather! I’ll trade you one hot day for one cold night… ;)


  3. I don’t know about traditional or not, but you are definitely a far more patient mother than I if you allow the blanket forts to stay up indefinitely. I’d better not let my kids see this post… they’ll be showing up on your doorstep! :)


    1. I just saw a Pinterest picture with holes poked in the cap of the milk jug for gentler sprinkling. One of those Duh-why-didn’t-I-think-of-that moments… ;)


  4. Kana, I can’t tell you how much I relish sharing in your family’s energy—the safety you create together, the joy, the acceptance, and so much love. I’m gifted every time I log on.


    1. It’s funny how much more we reflect on those blessings ourselves through the process of sharing them here… I think blogging has enhanced the way we NOTICE the details of our lives. All of us are now given to saying, “THAT’ll be in the blog”… :)


  5. My gosh I love this post! Thanks for making me laugh out loud at the nail polish remover, and you use a fancy watering jug just like mine! Actually I love metal jugs and they are all over the garden, but those plastic ones are always around the kitchen sink for saving water. And your rock is gorgeous (my kind of home!). And thanks for reminding me of the years when my sons were young and we had forts all over the house. How great your mom got to use an unused bed even with a houseful! I adore your sharings here. Thank you SO much!!


  6. Tattooed Chicken Farmer,
    You have to understand that the only chicken we see in Montreal are usually in our plates, beneath gravy and mashed potatoes…

    Now, far from me is the idea of telling you what your kids need, but Christian doing “Taekwondo move” seems to me like a cry for some Jedi training… Just sayin’.

    “Do my toes match my outfit?”… I just don’t know what to say to that… Perhaps less TLC? – Not that there’s anything wrong wanting to look your best…
    Le Clown


    1. Christian reached Taekwondo black belt last winter, and I think the Jedi-belt is next… No word yet on what color toenail-polish is recommended to accompany the black belt, but Keoni has the pocket knife ready for all eventualities.

      I’m HONORED by the blogroll spot, thank you. Spreading tattooed-chicken-love to the far corners of the earth… ;)


  7. Kana, you’re a girl after my own heart. I joking refer to my husband’s transformed (once discarded, recovered & then resurrected) beach cart as the Smurf mobile. He added a long handle (old tent pole), a bright blue tarp (torn, discard, retrieved) as a diaper to keep small objects from falling out and bicycle wheels to the original frame. It rolls with little or no effort or bending.
    Who needs money when you’re married to Buckminster Fuller (reincarnate)? Right?
    Your last 2 posts were so powerful and moving – my emotions swelled, but my words seemed so paltry in comparison. Perhaps WordPress could qualify the Like option and add another. Something along the lines of “Awestruck by the strength of your words! Mine pale in contrast.”


    1. Not at all. :)
      Though I must say I DO like the idea of additional options besides the “like” button. Maybe we should come up with a list of suggested buttons for the WordPress folks! ;)
      And… Do we get to see a photo of the Smurfmobile?? :)


  8. A post chock full of pure unadulterated fun! I LOVED the title! You can’t buy experiences like these at the store: this kind of stuff is satisfying, builds character, and WILL be what the kids talk about—in a good way—when they get older! Loved it!


  9. What a totally terriffic summer you guys are having there in HOT Idaho! My own children( and now grandchildren) made(make) lots of tent forts in the house! So glad you guys live right next to that wonderful state park and lake!


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