Saturday, June 23, 2007

Ready? Set. GO!

This week has been all about getting ready for the camping road trip I'll be making with the children. We got new brakes, because we want to make stops. We got the car super-clean, because it was super dirty. I found a 4th sleeping bag and a lantern, so now we'll have camp light and everyone will have a sleeping sack. I've started packing a mini kitchen... had to add s'more supplies, because it is no fun to sit around a campfire without something to burn.

I'll do one more load of laundry today, so we have plenty of socks and the rest of it. I am going to streamline my whole operation and see how few clothes we can carry. It means stopping to do laundry, but that's always necessary any way. With the car carrying a tent and sleeping bags, a campstove and all the gear the boys will want to bring along, we may be a bit snug. Ambitious me wants to pack the car tonight and be all ready for an early departure.

Realistic me knows there is a lot left to be done, so a pre-dawn departure is not too likely. Oh, plus there is my eye. I went to bed with a very tender, almost weepy eye. Gee. Why do these things happen over the weekend? I guess it's pink eye. Ick.

I finished my epic essay for the 4th of July post. It's freakin' long, and I'm glad I decided to finish it before I leave. If I can't post during our adventure, I will be making up for it with my extra jumbo post on Independence Day. Today I will prepare everything for Quilt Swap, so I can finish it during the adventure. Note to self: Take sewing machine and blue fabric to Anne, take Tamsyn her shoes. That's right: I get one last hug from Tamsyn, before she flies to Virginia. Of course I also envision leaving the house clean, including the refrigerator.

I will be missing Mom's Night Out at Karen's. I making up for this by promising myself visits to Farmer's Markets all along our drive, so that I can be a "Local Hero!" I love the term: Local Hero. Chicken Betty left me a comment about how in her neck of the woods, they salute consumers who shop locally with T-shirts and bumper stickers. In my own quiet way I am challenging myself to be a Local Hero, but trust me, I am bending the rules considerably. I feel overextended and dazed enough, without relying on searching out our puny Farmer's Market once a week for enough food for our crew. A little whiny, true, but my hands really are full.

I already miss Geoff. He's on the sofa with Maria, but I know in a few days, I will be wishing he was with us, driving along the coast, discovering new sights, sampling campfire dinners. Last night he read me Tennyson. He knows me. Geoff knows that I get an aching that cannot be denied and so I make my annual road trip. He read to me:

"I am a part of all that I have met.
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!"

--Ulysses, by Alfred Tennyson

I love to runaway from home almost as much as I love to come home. I will savor all the fun and challenges, the beauty of nature and the pleasure of visiting family, and then I will start to think of home, where my sweetheart is waiting for me. I look forward to sharing all of our new stories with him.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Write About Your State

Firefly's Pike's Peak Promise Project is coming up. Remember? On July 4th, bloggers across the country are going to link up and share their home states. There are a lot of states unspoken for and I think even the states that are spoken for could be represented by more people. I volunteered to post about California, and, as I am discovering, that is a lot of ground to cover. This morning I started organizing pictures that represent my state and I am trying to organize my thoughts too. What to emphasize? What to exclude? I think I want to explore art and culture, nature and discovery, and the people of California. Then I thought I could try a California alphabet... A to Z California specialties. I have some work to do.

+ I need to decide on my Doll Quilt design!
Doll Quilt Swap
Last night I was wrapped up in the thought of trying a cathedral windows quilt, like the one I found at Marisa's Quilt Otaku. I think this is a beautiful design. I wonder whether I could make one, and I wonder if I could make it small. Anne is waiting for a turn at the sewing machine, and cathedral windows is all hand stitching, so it could be ideal to take along on a road trip. So many decisions. So much fun.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Feel of Summer

We are unwinding. We are busy, running errands and doing chores, and yet it feels good to be doing things on our own terms. Max misses the rubber tree, but the other day he reached new heights in the ficus tree. Maria and I sat beneath the tree and sorted through our thrift shop finds.

Besides the Tupperware toy and the copper chicken, I found two blouses for Maria. And I found shams. I've never owned a sham, though I've admired many in catalogs, especially the quilted ones. These two looked only gently used and I couldn't resist the cool, fresh summer colors.

I don't believe this sham was ever used; it's tags were stiff and newish. Last night I added the freshly laundered shams to our bed and topped a thin blanket with a plain white sheet, so that the whole bed looks like a cool, inviting summer meadow. Ahh, much better. I hadn't really thought about today being the first day of summer... everything just happened because it felt like the right time.

The yard has the feel of summer. Hydrangeas are blooming and sweetpeas are fading. Wouldn't it be nice to have a garden bed with tomatoes and basil, a few peppers? One needs a garden to really feel summer.

And a tree to climb. Trees are ideal for a summery feeling. Porches, fresh lemonade, sprinklers, wide open windows, running in the yard as the late summer sun dips in to the sea...

Summer is for outdoor dinners and finding noonday shade, popsicles, swimming pools, fruit, exploring road maps and roadside stands, air-conditioned theaters, long days in parks, playing tag after dark. Summer is for endless hours being with the ones you love and feeling as light and bright as the blue sky above... that's my wish, for you, for me, for us all.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Paper Dragons and Copper Chickens

Our first summer day out took us east, where we stumbled upon the Origami collection at the Mingei Museum. It was third Tuesday free day! We easily found parking! I love it when good things coincide to make my life interesting and easy.

I love it when we discover something unique and intricate that makes us gaze with admiration, like folded paper dragonflies.

Alex and I like this wasp.

Max, our resident Origamist, would not look at the displays. He was in a mood. He sat on a bench and stared at the street outside the main entrance. Sometimes Asperger's Syndrome can be so vexing, but I've learned to give him his space and allow him to cope with the world as best he can. While he sat, we marveled at paper boxes, and the creases and folds of paper snow.

This is one of the few I thought I could readily try for myself.

I would like to try making these paper boxes. The shapes are lovely, but I think the prints on the paper make it especially engaging.

This can't be from a single square of paper, can it? I think the curator could have given more information about the processes involved in some of these.

Max said, "Other people's creations aren't as interesting to me as what I can compose myself." And so he was happy to find a table, where he could make his own origami. He made a finger puppet in the image of a fox's head.

Alex made a swan. I bought paper to bring home. I'll Google 'origami boxes.'

We picked up sandwiches from our favorite market, where Manuel still knows the children's names and he fed them Fuji apples. We haven't lived in that neighborhood in 4 years, but I love going back to Major Market. After our parking lot picnic, I took the children to my new favorite thrift shop. It's huge and always unbelievably busy. I have to loop and wait for a parking space. Unlike Anthropologie, where cool things are meant to look flea market hip, the thrift store is packed with undiscovered treasures that can be brought home for pennies on the dollar.

Everyday at the thrift store is a new day in discovery. The inventory changes hourly. Yes, there is a lot of crap, and tasteless things too. There are also unexpected finds, like the slot machine Max wanted. We passed on the slot machine and bought a very nice pair of binoculars instead.

I like it when they sort things by color, so you can look on a rainbow aisle of shirts, or blue spatterware.

Themes are fun too, like this Pez collection. And the best part is finding something in good condition, something for .95 cents, something you know you can use and enjoy.

When it's just right it feels like you've won a prize

and it feels good to find the right fit.

I came home with Pyrex mixing bowls, little ones. I've been wanting some small bowls, and these are sturdy and cheerful.

Sometimes you have to splurge a bit when you find something that's too appealing to pass up. For $1.95 this copper chicken came home with us.

Today we go to Maria's dance class, and the boys will get their first chance to see Maria in school. Then we take our car for a tune-up, in preparation for our road trip. We've been doing lots of little things to get ready. The tent is pitched in our living room. Max and I tested our tent skills and made sure it's complete and sound. I found the camp stove. We need propane and one more sleeping bag. The week will be full. How is you summer starting off?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Spinning My Web

One component of blogging that I like to remember is sharing. This is the World Wide Web and a good blogger is like a spider, always adding to the web, building the connections and links, sharing the network. So, when I find interesting news, helpful articles and blogs that I like, well I like to share them.

I guess it's not hard to figure out some of my interests from the blogs I frequent. Mary, at "New Rustic," is just starting out with her blog. I like her style. She's looking ahead to the day when they can grow crops and enjoy some farm animals... sounds good to me. In the meantime she's taking on an intriguing challenge proposed by Liz at "Pocket Farm." It's called "One Local Summer" Anne, we should sign up for this one: Once a week eat a dinner from only locally grown/produced foods and post about it on your blog! My friend Anne is already on her way to better eating, local and organic. I'll have to get some tips from her.

Another blogger, new to the scene, is Debbie. She writes "Creative Ramblings," about her life in SW Florida. Let's see... she quilts, she has a new camera and she's a friend of Calamity Kim, who is always sending me good news and encouragement. Kim helped me meet other nice people like Tami in Sunnyvale, CA. Her Lemon Tree Tales is full of creative whimsy.

Do you know what a "Pocha" is? I had an idea, but wanted to be sure exactly what insult I was bearing when my uncle chided me and my inferior Spanish. So, I turned to Google and discovered "Urban Dictionary," and I was right... my tio was dissing me and my Spanglish. Gracias tio, muy amable. What else have I learned about myself? What can you learn about yourself? Try this Personal DNA quiz. It's a unique (free) personality test, with colorful results. It turns out I am a

Catching-Up and A Fond Farewell

I really could not bring myself to fully realize what it means: Tamsyn is moving away. We've known for quite some time that they would be looking for a new home state, a place to retire to, where they could have room for horses, six cats, two dogs and two birds. I sheltered my heart from the actual day we would have to say good-bye. I did not want to imagine not seeing her face, hearing her laugh, and knowing that we could not expect her to pop over to play. Now that I am thinking about it, I am crying. I will miss her too much. I am very sad.

I remember quite clearly the first time she knocked at our Treehouse door. She was tiny and polite, introducing herself and asking so sweetly if anyone would like to come out and play. And it seems like they haven't stopped playing since that first day.

Since January of 2004 we have been to parks and ponds, and camping. We've shared birthdays and hikes, dinners, sleep-overs, picnics, good times and sad times, horse rides, kittens, and lost cats, berry picking, apple picking and lemon picking and all kinds of pies.

Our homes were open and the children enjoyed countless days running around together, exploring yards and trees, playing games, and celebrating seasons. Did they ever not get along? Maybe there were debates or minor misunderstandings, but nothing lasting or too upsetting. They maintained friendships that were full of good will and kindness. They shared common interests, like computer games and fantasy, hiking around the trails that led from the backyards at the Treehouse and their house next door. They built wonderful Lego structures together, including one that won a prize from Lego Magazine.

Tamsyn has been a member of our family, a sister to my children, and like a daughter to me. And when my children were in her home, with Carol and Gene, they were as welcome as family, happy to help look after their dogs Jasper and Pippin, thankful for the chance to try horse riding and find constellations through their telescope.

We want whatever is best for the people we love and I know that Tamsyn is destined for great adventures and success, that she will be happy in her new Virginia home. But I wish they were staying close by... close enough that I could still hear her singing. She sings beautifully. Close enough that we can carve pumpkins, build gingerbread houses and bake apple pies together, then build a fort out of fallen branches and thrift shop sheets anytime... whenever we want. Close enough that I can hear the children laughing in the backyard.

I will miss our friends. I will miss the simple pleasures we enjoyed when we got together.

I was going to post about how many things I have been neglecting to take care of, like correspondence and phone calls. I've been meaning to answer emails and get organized, and other usual chores. I want to clear out all the school related clutter that we've been accumulating. There are important points on my list of things to do, but my thoughts are elsewhere. My heart is distracted. I think I'll go find the children, hug them, invite them out for a little silliness.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Party Knights and Father's Day

The fun lasted 6 hours. We made memories for a lifetime. Alex's 13th birthday celebration was a day full of great friends, play and laughter, lots of food and a castle cake. What an event. See this crowd? This is a fun bunch of people. Let's add enthusiastic, generous, loving, energetic, and really cool. They came ready to participate in the whole medieval scene. Holly brought her ample store of crowns and weapons. Gene and Carol were in full Renaissance garb, and they looked spectacular. Everyone found a way to play, like playing softball, launching foam tipped arrows, constructing knights and dragons to populate the castle and even tossing around some water balloons.

Alex's king of the castle was soon joined by his loyal subjects each drawn and assembled by friends and family. We made good use of tin cans, glue and glitter.

Max helped set up the kingdom, complete with its secret stash of castle treasure; the dungeon was full of chocolates and poppers!

Here is the catapult Geoff and Alex designed and constructed last week. It worked awesomely... really, it was launching hundreds of orbs and never once failed or caused injury. I think we could rent it out for corporate events and unconventional weddings.

All able bodied knights and ladies were welcome to operate the catapult. Objective: Take down the castle! Michelle made the first significant hit! Rich penetrated the castle gate.

Here's Nick checkin out the damage. Once we were satisfied that the king was willing to surrender we sent the children charging forth to plunder the contents. The castle went down. Its mighty curtain wall and formidable tower were shredded and the treasure was hauled away by the triumphant warriors.

Some of the castle loot included wrapped surprises for a game of gift stealing. Is there an official name for the stealing game? We each had a chance to pick a gift from the pile, and gifts could be lost to the next player. In the end everyone takes home something, like a kite, lotion, a bike horn, Altoids, a tape measure... good, good stuff. Tough choices.

Rich and Jeff, negotiating a swap?

Geoff worked hard setting up and then cleaning up, but in between he got to sit back and relax, take in a facial from these two lovely ladies.

Last night Alex laid his gifts out end to end and basked in their gloriousness. He was thrilled with all the fresh art supplies (which regularly run-out in this house) from Meera, Dhyana, Michelle. He invited Max to join him when he excavates medieval treasures from the gift that Rob gave him. He has new books to read, and some cool shirts to wear, thanks to Rachel, Tamsyn, Jeff, and Nick. Mitchell, Enrico, Naomi, Sydney and Chris gave him gift cards, so did Adam and Jacob... more fun to come! He has new Lego sets to construct thanks to James and Deanne, and Hans and Gretchen. There are lots of cool things we look forward to playing with, like the moon phases light and the new cake form. Wow! Wow... very generous.

Isn't it fun to watch someone open gifts? It's a little bit of magic. Pulling back the paper and revealing a secret, the reflection of someone's thoughtfulness. Alex wants to use his new paints and charcoals to make thank you cards for everyone.

Happy Father's Day
After a very busy week and a long day of reveling, I think we are all going to enjoy this quieter day. I made thick, cinnamon French toast and turkey bacon. Geoff watched a new SpongeBob DVD with the kids. I suppose we'll be cleaning some, and we plan on taking a long walk. We have some calls to make too. But mostly we are going to enjoy a calm, less hectic time together. It feels good to have time to reflect on how great life can be.