Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hot Date

Now this is a stretch to be sure, but it's nice to reflect on the little things that can make us happy, when so much else is a struggle... Geoff followed me to the gas station. He was on his way to work, where he's set up residence for the duration, and I asked him to meet me at the gas station. I wanted to skip unloading and reloading Maria while I paid for gas. With Geoff's company, I could safely leave her in the car. I cannot remember the last time he and I sat alone-together in a darkened theater or gazed across candlelight into each other's eyes, but when he agreed to join me at the filling station, well I just couldn't help but think of it as a moment. An occasion. A hot date.

It's divine when something you have planned goes better than the plan. I needed company, an extra pair of eyes. He gave me full service. He let me sit. He paid. He did it all. There was a little flirting, some dialogue. We exchanged tenderness and probably railed about the economy a bit. Fortunately the tank was really low, so we had a chance to connect, to bond.

I still remember 1982, seeing him, my knees going weak. I still remember wanting nothing else in the world but to be in his arms, or at least hearing his voice on the phone. I thought I knew what forever meant. I thought I knew what everlasting love could mean. I was neither right nor wrong. There is something good and exhilarating about the early days of our relationship, and the memories are dear, but thank you God... thank you for the every day, for the partner in good times and bad. Thank you for normal, quiet, familiar. Thank you for enduring and kind, for gentle and humorous. Thank you for keeping me in the company of my best friend.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Chef Alex

My friend Anne keeps a beautiful, thoughtful, and inspiring blog: Mom, What's For Dinner? She's a good cook and a caring person, so her family is lucky to have her in the kitchen. And in the blogosphere, we are fortunate to have a thoughtful woman sharing her dining table... the food, the recipes, the ideas and aspirations... even the pitfalls, and the timely conversations that we hope to find at a family table. She doesn't preach, or pretend to have all the answers. I think she enjoys being thoughtful and recognizing the value and significance of dinner time.

Alex is taking a class he calls, "Food," and he says it reverently, with a grin. He's doing very well in this class, and all the others too (w00ts), and recently he's been bringing home recipes and new menu ideas. Cooking at home is not a requirement, but he enjoys applying what he's learning and logging some bonus points. Last week he brought cranberry-chocolate chip cookies to class, and tonight he made dinner. He dreamt up a dinner he thought would be extra scrumptious. He's supposed to consider nutrition, making good tasting meals healthy too... which is as it should be, yeah?

Alex's dream dinner: Pork chops, apple sauce, and corn on the cob. He would have added ice cream and berries, but I sort of vetoed that. He points out that our dinner was missing dairy and grains. Is corn on the cob a grain? If we dried it, ground it and made tortillas, I would think those were whole grain... hmmm... I am not going to worry about the dairy omission. We were going to make salad, but the last of the lettuce went to their school lunches.

Alex let Maria help him peel, core and slice 8 organic Gala apples. He put them in a saucepan with 1/2 cup of organic apple cider and simmered them until they were soft. Once the apples were cooked, he put them in our blender and added a dash of cinnamon. He let them blend until they were free of chunks and bits... he likes a smooth apple sauce. The corn was steamed. The pork chops were seasoned with salt, pepper, lots of garlic and some dried Rosemary. He seared these on the stove top and then let them finish cooking in a hot oven. They came out juicy and flavorful. The applesauce was heavenly... not too sweet, but with the pleasant, complex flavors of fresh fruit. The chicas get corn cobs tomorrow... what's left after they were happily gnawed by 4 hungry children.

William set the table. Max was able to finish his homework, so he joined us in a relaxed mood. Geoff is working, and we missed him. He'll read this post and be glad his children are well, that I am getting help. Whatever is for dinner, I think I like it best when it is shared... either in thought or action, with as many gathered together as possible, feeling at ease, welcome, with gratitude and recognition.

Charmed, I'm Sure

It was July when Lady Harvatine inspired me to make charming little coasters, using... ta-da! charm squares! Charm squares are clever samples of fabric lines, pre-cut in to 5" squares and all ready for sewing fun. Honestly this idea was on the front burner every day, and now that I finally made and gifted some, I cannot believe it was back in July when I first decided to try these. Where, oh where do the weeks go?

I am wild for the Moda fabric, Pumpkins Gone Wild. Had I realized how long it had been since I read Lady Harvatine's tutorial, I would have gone back and read the post again, because some of my coasters started a bit wonky. Her suggestions and directions would have insured I kept this easy project easy. Still, I got a happy ending and lots of seasonally fun coasters. Perfect for resting a tall glass of organic apple cider, hot or cold. Perfect for a quick craft fix, when I cannot resist the urge to make something.

Next time I reach for my big cuppa cheap, decaffeinated Nescafe, I'll have something charming to set my cup on.

Judy, my scalloped edges and other fancy stitches came from the goodies that are on my Janome sewing machine... they're decorative stitches to compensate for my poor skills using Ric-Rac!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Crisp Pumpkins in The Fog

I was up, but I was not awake. Autumn makes me want to be a poet, a singer... and I was trying to make an autumnally descriptive greeting to my drowsy boys this morning, but I should have waited until I was fully cognizant. I said it was "a beautiful, blue skied first day of Fall, with crisp pumpkins in the fog." Fortunately my boys have come to appreciate my unique brand of random, nonsensical poetry and lyrics. And you know what? I'm sticking with crisp pumpkins in the fog. I think it's a fitting and lovely picture of the season.

Welcome Fall.
Happy pumpkins and harvests, sweaters and cider.
Follow leaves turning crimson and amber, drifting to the ground.
Feel the cooling and slowing and easing into night.
Welcome comfort and gathering and Autumnal delight.

Maria filled her basket with fabric scraps during our recent visit to Starry Night Hollow. There are a lot of simple and fun things that Maria enjoys doing, and visiting the scrap tub at the quilt shop is one of the most fun. We dive in together, pulling up colors, shapes, prints, textures. She talks about the patterns and makes little stories about the different pieces of fabrics. At home she'll sit beside me in our corner of the garage. With her scissors and tape, and sometimes asking me to run a seam on the machine, she creates all kinds of art... she plays and works.

Maybe it's creative kinship that makes it such a pleasure to meet people at Starry Night Hollow. All around, inside and out, are the samples and examples of other people's play and work, so that the whole place is a welcome and inspiring retreat. Maria feels right at home there.

Real crows have been filling the skies and perching on rooftops, in the trees. They chase even bigger birds and caw-caw-caw. Such a classic image of Autumn and rural, harvest images. Isn't this scrap cloth crow clever? She's a gift from our shop friends. Maria and I put her together, and now she's inspiring more decorating inclinations. It could be fun to put a wreath on the gate, and dust off our old scarecrow.

I always question whether it's too soon to start decorating or planning. But lets' face it, time slips by so fast, how could it possibly be too soon to think of pumpkins and baking, of stitching little gifts, getting cozy with yarn and quilt tops? I am bit. Welcome Fall. Welcome, and stay and let me celebrate with abandon and gratitude.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lots and Lots to Share

I didn't know what to title this post. I have so much on my mind, so much to say, and some of it is lovely and sentimental and important, and some of it is pointless, and some of it is probably going to wind up on the cutting room floor, because occasionally I have the good sense to censor myself.

I am debating... should I write detailed accounts of the weekend's events, and add more about things that happened during the week, or should I be more pragmatic, expedient, and just make a list? Lists lack poetry, but elaborate, descriptive posts take time and peace of mind... obviously this is not an occasion when I have elected to censor myself... my, but I can ramble...

How about a picture?

I thought we weren't going to make it to this wedding, but I have a persistent sister and she somehow managed to nudge me just enough... Alex, Max, Maria and I went to a family wedding, and along the way we met Hans and Gretchen. We also had the pleasure of reuniting with cousins and aunts and uncles and familia, so of course I have no regrets about going. I know it sounds terrible that I had to be persuaded to go to a family wedding, but sometimes life's complications blur my senses and my priorities, and I stray.

Maria was completely enchanted by the outdoor wedding with all the floral arrangements and all the friendly faces. She is keenly aware of pageantry and loveliness, and she was happy to embrace everything and everyone. Sitting on her Aunt Gretchen's lap, she had a comfortable view of the bride and groom's wedded kiss.

It's time for me to actually learn how to use my camera, maybe take a photography class. Not too many of the pictures I took came out very well. There are some good ones... not sure I can share them... blog etiquette is a balancing act, that at times finds me faltering.

I am never really sure who I am addressing through Chickenblog. Does anyone hope for wedding facts, a guest list, a photograph of the table settings? I do know that my thoughts should have been on the happiness of the occasion, the joy of the bride and groom. Truthfully, I was anxious about finding a gorgeous dress that detracted from my amplicity (not a real word, but a gentle euphemism,) highlighted my femininity, and cost next to nothing. I was focused on keeping Maria appropriately dear and sweet and good. I was in minor anguish over getting as many of our household members to attend and be suitably attired. We don't dress-up. We rarely ever go out to any place that requires more than clean shorts. I could not believe that I have no make-up. I found a little powder. I searched far and wide and finally located a tube of lipstick. My hair... I washed it, dried it and brushed it, and it looked about the same as it always looks.

So, you know, I was nervous and reluctant and full of thoughts, and yet, in the end, it was a really nice occasion. And if I had just dropped all my baggage, it would have been a whole lot easier to just go and enjoy seeing family and friends, share in the beauty of a garden wedding, chill.

I broke my finger. As long as I am managing to make their wedding all about me, I may as well mention that as I was opening Maria's stroller, the 2 bars that meet snagged my pinky, crushing and tearing the tip of it. I totally kept my composure. I didn't even say, "!yowfttttmmckckckmmfff!*" Geoff thinks I did break it because whenever anything, like air or dust, touches it, it just hurts like a mmmfttckeerdngggrrr.

How about another picture?

Gigi and Michael's reception was just beginning to roll when we needed to slip away. No cake, no dinner, no toast. Maria woke from her nap and she was disoriented and just a wee bit irrational. I figured we made a nice entrance, shared good times, so why not make a nice, quiet exit? I hope that wasn't rude. I don't want to be rude. We were just trying to be practical.

Before she fell asleep, and subsequently awoke cranky, Maria got an Aunt Gretchen Manicure Special. Thank goodness for aunts. Aunts know how to dress pretty and accessorize. Aunts carry polish in their purses. Aunts can indulge nieces with luxuries and pampering, with a touch of make-believe sophistication. Maria gets swoony for all of the above.

What else did I want to mention?

1. My Mom sent us a delightful care package. She's determined to sparkle me out of the blues with her feminine powers of maternal love and artistry. Too flowery? Sorry. She sent jewelry to cheer me up. She sent Maria princess inspired jewels. She sent me 2 wraps, which I have been draping over my shoulders and wearing as a long distance hug. As soon as I clear a spot in the house I will take pictures and share what she made. They are so pretty.

2. Maria and I found ourselves at a favorite spot, Starry Night Hollow. I'm telling you, if you find yourself in So Cal and craving creativity, color, garden beauty, laughter, support, classes, quilty attractions... look no further. And coming soon, October 3-5th, Fall Festival! It's like June Jamboree, but with pumpkins and bobbing for apples!

3. My finger hurts.

How about another picture?

4. Next time I go shopping for a gorgeous dress, I want to bring a friend... someone kind and honest, gentle, but fashion savvy. Someone who can say, things like: "You'll melt in wool. That is not your color. Are you kidding? Let me get you another size. It's not you, it's the cut. No. No. No." And, "Gorgeous!"

5. Vote for Harv. Make a Young Boy's Dream Come True!

6. Chango is recovering. He almost died. He had a blocked something or other... I'll spare you the details. We are in recovery, and hoping he keeps making good progress toward total healing. Poor kitty.

7. This is conference week at Max's school. W00Ts for half days!

8. I'll reserve #8 for what may come, after all the weekend is not through.