Saturday, August 18, 2007

With Loving Tenderness

Hunca Munca Holds Her Baby

We watched the Beatrix Potter movie, "Miss Potter," while we were in Oregon. I enjoyed it. I have romantic notions about the English countryside and particularly the Lake District, all fostered by reading English novels, watching Masterpiece Theater and Merchant-Ivory films. I have not been there, yet.

Near a town called Sawry, you can visit Beatrix Potter's home, Hill Top, where she wrote and illustrated many of her charming stories, like "The Tale of Two Bad Mice."

Earlier this week I spent a little time talking with someone about the Lake District, and making plans, about the places he's been... I asked for suggestions about traveling in England and shared my secret wish to discreetly, gracefully, visit those gentle, timeless places and for a brief moment quietly blend in. I held his hand while I spoke.

Yesterday another friend brought me Hunca Munca and her baby. She had been in the Lake District, and so kindly thought of me and brought me this sweet remembrance of her family's visit to Hill Top.

I wish that we could all know the tenderness that Beatrix Potter conveyed in her little paintings. She managed to capture endearing and true moments, human emotions, good and bad. Her mice and bunnies, all of her animal friends, bore the thoughts and emotions that we feel and know. This little figure, Hunca Munca, reminds me of another secret wish that I shared...

I wish that everyone born feels welcomed and can be held by a familiar person, a loving person, and I wish that we have the same when we die... that someone loving can hold us.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Post Cards

There are all kinds of things going wrong around here. The washing machine gave me one load (yes, I am still playing Washer Roulette) and then it went completely wacko at the start of the 2nd load. Arggh. And iPhoto is being hugely ornery. It will only allow me to upload 6 pictures at a time and it dies after I've loaded only eighteen total. At this rate my hundreds of images will be stuck in photo limbo f o r e v e r. Wah! Did I say "all kinds?" OKay, so it's only two, and I won't bother mentioning there's a war going on, inflation is out of control and I am still overweight. It's no fun listening to a whiner after all.

Time to divert myself with a few of the pictures I have so far managed to upload to the computer. My very own postcards. I just love postcards.

So, have I mentioned that I stopped by a quilt shop or two? To be fair, I could have visited 10 times the number of quilt shops, but I did exercise some constraint. As I discovered, every shop has something new to offer and so it was always worthwhile to take a peek. Otherwise, how would I know that fat-quarters are sometimes folded into charming triangles, then stacked into tantalizing stars. If you don't know, a fat quarter is a squarish cut of fabric that gives a crafter or quilter a nice fabric sample, in a convenient size for making a whatever. I love them, because they are affordable morsels of fabric goodness. This is also where I finally saw what is meant by a jelly roll; scrumptious strips of fabric rolled and ready to play with! Eat it up, yum!

Easy to get to and a delight to visit, Quilted Angel was definitely a highlight of Chickenblog's Quilt Tour 2007. Where are my notes? I actually started to write down names and places, so I could give credit where it is due. Credit is due at Quilted Angel, where the service was very friendly, very personable and relaxed. And the fabric choices were amazing. I figured I had seen most of what's out there, but I was really, really wrong. There are an impossible number of beautiful, fanciful, new, vintage and desirable prints in the world and I found plenty to make my heart flutter. I also found buttons and bought a handful of lavender and green ones, and I got yards of pink and red mini fuzz ball trim (do those have a real name?) Good stuff. Good store. Hope to return.

I love road trips because I find new sights, new views, and new inspiration. We rolled down the highway and though I have never seen pear trees before, I recognized these, even at 65 MPH. Had to pull over and make a postcard. Somewhere north of Santa Rosa and south of Willits, pears are ripening and looking sun-kissed and plump.

This postcard is to remind me that it's easy to love road trips when I have such wonderful children. They travel well. Very well. I hope they remember these adventures, the sights, the rough patches and the triumphs. We figure things out together and make everything come out alright.

And we always find something to laugh about. Sorry we missed the Bard-B-Q... maybe next year.

We camped along the Eel River, in Richardson Grove State Park. I love it there. On our first drive to Oregon we landed there late one night and left in dark morning.

I was so happy to return with more time to appreciate the park, the river, the trees and the starry night. The river was shallow, slow and dammed, which is damning. Poor Eel River is quite stunted by being all dammed up.

Of course a flooded Eel River would not be much fun either. At this level, we were able to enjoy our evening on the riverbank. Skipping stones, collecting pretty things, pointing out fish and frogs, cooling our toes.

Our tent wasn't too far from this idyllic spot and we spent the night listening to the river pour over rocky sections, with the wind blowing across it and over our little tent.

At our campsite Max reminisced about school and the rock shops he and his friends kept. Max set up a brand new rock shop, where I bartered for a lovely rock with milky bumps and some crystal shine.

Meet Sergio. He and his dad camp every summer, and are especially fond of river spots. Sergio is part river otter... he was swimming in the river! After we decided it was time to build a fire and try to retreat from the constant wind blowing across the water, Sergio hiked back to the river, towel in hand, and had a nice, long evening soak. Brrrr!

One last postcard for today: Happy Campers, New Friends.

And one last thought: Thank you blogging friends for all the nice comments you've left. It's such a delight to hear from you and to recieve your warm thoughts and wishes.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Whole Lotta Miles

We drove and we drove and we drove. And we sang weird songs and we made elaborate plans for our flying submersible family vehicle, with solar panels. The first day of our return trip from Oregon was hard for two reasons. I didn't want to leave my Mom and Ron, the relaxed quiet of northwest living, the forest and the small towns, the quaint harbor, the cold mornings and all those ripening berries. I didn't want to leave the sight of farm houses, grazing cows, goats in meadows, old barns, and trees beginning to hint of autumn.

We joked that we could just settle-in and wait for Geoff to come find us. Thinking of Geoff was one of very few attractions for returning to Garage Mahal, so we did eventually get sleeping bags, frozen blackberries, clean clothes, toys and tent packed in to our Odyssey and we pulled out of the long driveway reluctantly waving good-bye to grandparents, and sand dunes, to banana slugs, cranberry-walnut farmer's market bread...

The second thing that makes it hard to leave is that there are hundreds of inviting, compelling, intriguing, historic and beautiful sights, so that for about 700 miles I had to resist pulling over and seeing the views. I had to refrain from taking one more picture. I could not browse in another state park visitor center, or take the Lost Coast drive and look for agates and sea glass. I did not walk in old town Eureka, or return to the French pastry shop in Ferndale. I steered clear of wide beaches with tide pools, like Big Lagoon, and I skipped the Avenue of Giants, this time.

My disciplined driving got us to the north side of the San Francisco Bay, where we happily collapsed in our hotel room. Our second day was practically an exact opposite... I strayed and tarried and took circuitous routes, almost as compulsively as I had resisted them the day before. I gave the children a driving tour of San Francisco, which is not an easy undertaking, when one has driven in that hilly, crowded, twisty, bustling urban circus only once before. We drove Lombard Street... that's the extra steep and twisty one the city is famous for. We sat at the top of Telegraph Hill and we rolled passed our all time favorite restaurant, House of Nanking. We drove through and around the Presidio and the Marina and Golden Gate Park. Since the kids are still sick and since parking in the city is a nightmare, we never actually stopped anywhere, but the drive was enjoyed by all. The boys were in awe of the steep hills and the foggy bay, the tightly packed houses, cable cars, the Golden Gate and Coit Tower. We left the city satisfied and still interested in returning for a more complete tour.

Ahh, next time. Return trips. Future plans. You know you've had a good time when even with four tired, congested children, 25 pounds of defrosting blackberries in the trunk and another 390 244 113 10 miles to drive you still find yourself thinking about Next Time. Next time we'll stay in San Francisco and next time we'll camp in Humboldt State Park. Next time we'll take more pictures, and take fewer clothes. And next time I will know that even though Oregon is far, far away, it's a totally worthwhile trip.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Being Flexible

Today will be about packing, and studying the map. The boys have been sleeping
in the tent all week, so we need to roll it up, and there are all the extras
we've accumulated along the way... those need to get stowed away. I think doing
a load of laundry is in order, and adding some drinks and snacks to our camp box
will make the drive home more convenient.

And the map... I need to rethink our camping reservations. Maria, Max and
William are sick, and I cannot imagine the 5 of us packed together in our 4
person tent, sleeping on hard ground with smoky and cold air. They have fevers,
sore throats, runny noses and last night William was coughing. It was the first
night the boys joined me and Maria sleeping in the house. They are all still
sleeping... I hope Alex wakes up healthy. So, no camping, and probably no stops
for long hikes or visits to the agate beaches. We'll skip seeing downtown Eureka.

My Mom invited us to stay until the kids feel well. Tempting. It's so lovely
here, with the tall pines all around and the bushes full of juicy blackberries...
the bushes are actually full of thorny, prickly vines, which hold the juicy
blackberries. They're well worth the occasional scratch and prick. We still
haven't been to the fish hatchery or had a cranberry pizza. Max wants to go on
an insect walk with his grandpa. I would love to learn a few jewelry tricks,
like how to make a ring. By leaving tomorrow we will miss seeing the blackberry
festival, the cranberry festival... which includes a quilt show, and later there
will be a salmon festival in Coos Bay. I don't think we need to think hard to
find reasons to stay. Mom and Ron's company alone makes the visit worthwhile.

Ahead of us is a long, long drive, made even longer by children who are not
feeling well. This may call for some real coffee. Ahead of us is the happy
reunion with Geoff, and sharing all of the details of our adventure with him.
Hugging our cats, taking celery to Joe, the rabbit, and checking my barrel farm.
I wonder if we'll ever get tomatoes? Then there will no doubt be laundry, bill
paying and answering emails, getting ready for a new school year and preparing
for one more grand adventure; this time Geoff will come too!

In my mind I am crossing a fast moving creek. The boulders and rocks that I can
step on are the good spots in my life and the cold, rough water is the rest, like
back to school and living in a rented house. No, that doesn't
make a good metaphor. I like creeks and water, even cold rough water. Let's
just say: I'll be happy to be with Geoff again and to see our cats, and I am
looking forward to visiting Wisconsin and being with more family. In life it
helps to be flexible, right?