Monday, October 22, 2018

October Treats

Where do stories begin? I think I will begin with Nedda, and Enchanted Leaves... I came home from Maker Faire with good memories, and some very generous gifts, including a flowering passion vine from fellow Maker and extraordinary jewelry maker, Nedda. She also set us up with a kit so we can learn to electroform, too... and I am preparing a whole day/event/festival for that!

Ok. Hold on. Where do stories begin? Nedda and I met at the Maker Faire in 2017, but just barely. We were both very busy in our own booths, with our own exhibits and activities, but we carried on via Instagram, and this year at the San Diego Maker Faire, we found 3 more minutes to reconnect!

And here's where my story begins... to get ready for our Halloween party, I had a lot of cleaning up to do, preparing, but also just trying to compensate for the neglected yard, and stashes of stuff everywhere. Nedda's little vine inspired me to find a good pot to transplant it into, and then I put our avocado sprout into a pot. Those 2 plants motivated me to wipe down the table I set them on, and then one good deed led to another...


Once upon a time, a very busy and flighty woman took care of a tender young vine, and when she saw how pretty it looked, she began to tidy and tend all around the little vine. She hung up her tools, and sorted all of the odds and ends around the garden. She saw her neglected flower bed, and wrestled with some weeds, turned the soil, and decided: This needs new flowers, new greens, a fresh start. It seemed a low priority, a silly place to begin, when all of the house needed order and repair, when laundry was looming and dishes stacking, but she was decided, and firm, and to the nursery she went! She longed to see fall colors, and her clever daughter said, "Mom, let's bring home flowers the color of fall... the warm and cheerful crimsons, buttery yellows, pansies with maple leaf shades." And that was a very good choice, and by nightfall, all of the new flowers, and the chard and lettuces were tucked into the garden bed, watered and admired. And the happy job done, inspired more tidying, and chores, more spiffing and sprucing, and happy reflection on how a friend can give a gift that starts good deeds that grow and grow.

Maria came out of school, walking toward me, with her sketchbook... walking and sketching. In her last class of the day, photography, the substitute teacher showed a film about National Geographic photographers, and that is when Maria saw Afghan Girl, Sharbat Gula, by Steve McCurry. It is a compelling image, and Maria was eager to capture it, at first from memory. Then the teacher passed around a handout that included a small photocopy of the photograph. I love Maria's art. I love thinking of how much she will enjoy learning more, when she finally takes an art class, maybe next year. She learns so much from her brother, from observation, from any of the talented people she knows, has met. I am glad she continues to practice, to challenge herself.

We couldn't wait for Halloween. This year work and school schedules called for an early celebration of pumpkins, dressing up, and gathering friends, even some trick-or-treating. I recall a very fun evening, generous and helpful friends, delicious contributions, ideal weather, and laughter... wonderful laughter, and just a hint of spookiness. In fact, it was a such a successful party we are ready and willing to think ahead to our Solstice Celebration!

Did I mention talented and influential artists? Bambi made quiche for the party, and she included this darling illustration with ingredients. Bambi, many guests remarked on your art and your cooking! Both are very good.

This basket. Bambi carried both quiches in it, and it has the clever little stand to keep the pies stacked and separate. I love it! Has everyone seen these, and I am only just discovering that such a clever thing exists? I would love to have one.

I say it every time we host a party: Potluck is the best answer to what should we feed everyone?? Marla and Dan came with another one of their amazing cheese platters. And they needn't think of any other contribution to ever bring to any future gatherings. That's Humboldt Fog. Heavenly cheese. And honey. Oh my. And whenever I start mentioning a particular dish or favor, then I feel terribly remiss if I don't add every dish and favor... and there were so many! I dread excluding anyone. Can I just say, every guest came with smiles, and treats, and helping hands, and thoughtful touches. I get such nice comments about our parties, but the key is: Good friends. Good friends make any party special, so thank you, all.

Costume Geniuses, Paul and Geoff.

Good friends kept arriving, with good food, and as always everything was plentiful, and fun.

Simon, Maria, Mia, and Amira... our weather always allows for gathering inside and out.

Leslie with Cerrah and Tim. And this is where I have to say: I really, really wish I had taken more pictures. Lots. More. Pictures. Tim is... can you guess? He's Bob Ross. And that's brilliant enough, but the cutest part is Cerrah, his Happy Little Tree! They won the contest. We weren't having a contest, but they won.

Kay, Max, Bambi and Alex, Tori, Simon, Paul, Maria, Mia, and Amira~

William and his copilot.

We always have trick or treating, with stations around the Bird House. Paul took the barn, Geoff was in the workshop, William passed out candy from the porch, and Tim and Cerrah managed the front door. All ages, no shame... everyone is welcome to go from door to door and collect treats!

Ah, no Halloween is complete without the candy collecting, trading, sorting, and counting. Maria counted her treats in Japanese. Cairo made sure everything was done properly.

I'm still painting. After missing one class, I had a lot to make-up. And this is my second version of the stark trees along a road, this time following the lesson that I missed. Our teacher had us prepare to think about our final project, which comes as a bit of a surprise, but yes... there are not too many Fridays between today and December 9th. Maybe I should be enrolling in the Spring semester class, now.

We celebrated early, but we are still looking forward to more October treats, like pumpkin carving, and pumpkin pie. There's also work and school. Yesterday was an all day homework event for Alex, Max, and Maria. And it felt like all day washing dishes, wish I actually enjoyed.

Ah! Here's Cairo, to remind us that there will certainly be more fun, treats, and spookyness in October.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Cairo Days

This is his nose. Neo Cairo Nepenthes, the puppy cat. The napping, half-fat, tuxedo cat, who is growing back the fur he pulled. I take a lot of pictures of him. He's cute, and behaves ridiculously, which in a cat's case is usually an endearing way to behave. And, somehow, even when he is a little pill, he is endearing. And so, this post, which is really only a collection of the pictures from my phone, features Cairo Fluff Nugget the Boop, quite a bit. I have no regrets.

He knows his name more than any cat I've known or met. And he knows very well when he is misbehaving, which is why at least once a day you will hear someone calling his name, and see him skulking away like a guilty bandit.

I've learned some amazing techniques for watercolor painting, and I am glad, but I am also eager to learn more, and practice more. Maybe I am, at last, a sophomore, not an absolute beginner. But this stage of my studies presents its own humility... I know enough to do better, but the challenge is to apply it all, without being disheartened by the skills I still lack. So, more practice is called for, so I can gain more experience.

Lighthouses are all well and fine, but sometimes I simply need to see my ratty-rats.

And as much as I enjoy painting, sometimes I simply need to crochet, so I emptied my little back of travel wips, and finished the last of the fingering weight yarn from our summer visit to The Cat and Crow. (Which reminds me: I have not blogged a pip nor a peep about that lovely, summer visit to Wisconsin... something I've been meaning to do, because it will be nice to revisit that lovely time.)

Yarn. Wool. From Blackberry Ridge Wooledn Mill. It was a brilliant souvenir: local, compact, lightweight, and crocheting with the autumn colors kept me happily occupied the rest of summer and into fall, making garlands, like the ones I saw hanging in the shop window of The Cat and Crow.

Garlands complete. I already shared one, and I have another I would like to give as a gift. Today I will hang the rest, as we are preparing for a Halloween party. I like to think of them as pumpkins and leaves on a vine.

This is where we left him, when we went out on errands. And this is where we found him, hours later. Teasingly, I asked, "Cairo! Have you been snoozing all this time?"

You're not the boss of me.

Then, when it suits him, he finds a warm lap, and commands snuggles.

Homework days. If this isn't strictly Cairo Days, then it could be Homework Days. Alex is taking his chemistry and history homework with tea for his cold. Max takes his homework with reams of paper for the long proofs he is writing. Maria takes her homework with diligence and attention to detail, and I get to help, too... reading lines in Japanese! I hope some of this sticks!

He quite possibly is the boss of all of us.