Saturday, August 01, 2015

Moonstones and Beanstones and Nursery Cats
















While William and Geoff took care of the Bird House & Barn, Max, Maria, Alex and I went places north and west. It was part vacation, part academic. We visited schools... viewing, assessing, rating, and ranking by our own precise and unique criteria. But let's talk about moonstones, and other gems. We spent lovely hours on the beach, reading books, walking, talking, and sifting through sand and pebbles in search of luminous, pale, smooth and round moonstones. The risk, I suspect, of naming a beach for a singular treasure is that the poor beach will be pillaged and robbed of its treasure. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the search, and came upon our own treasure: Beanstones. If you ever find yourself combing the shores in Cambria, California, do stop and look down; there are beautiful beanstones, everywhere. We found pinto beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, lentils and split peas, black beans, adzuki, and all sorts and sizes of Scarlet runners. Little caches and piles of these stone beans made a pretty sound tumbling in our hands, and pockets.

The beach was cold, windy, bitey. We were not well-prepared for this kind of weather, which was fun in its own way. It made it all the nicer when we hunkered together, or dashed back to our room and sat by the fire. We explored the town, too, which is quaint and charming, and winds through a valley, and up the sides of high sea bluffs... making for enjoyable explores, fun discoveries, like finding Cambria Nursery and Florist. We followed paths, came upon a tea party, made friends with the nursery cats, and declared it a very good nursery. I could have filled the van with salvia and blue hibiscus, cape mallow, and rock rose, too.

The sardines? Naturally, that's a long story. Last summer, when we were in Wisconsin, we celebrated Paul's birthday. Geoff's brother took us out on his boat, then back to his lovely home for a cookout. A friend brought appetizers, including a can of sardines. The sardines that changed my mind about tiny fish in tins. And I cannot be entirely certain they were sardines. Could they have been anchovies? She opened the can and introduced them as having particular qualities making them delicious and above all other tiny fish in tins, but I was foolish, reckless, unheeding, because, after all, I do not like tiny fish in tins... or so I believed, and I did not pay close enough attention. The brand, the ingredients, the specifics? I know not. To be polite, I took a small, timid sample, on a big cracker. The small, timid sample changed my beliefs about these things. All year I have had happy recollections of this particular delicacy, and have held firmly to the hope that it could not be so difficult to find the same delicious tiny fish in a tin can. I didn't realize it, but Max had tried the fish, too. And on this trip, perusing the aisles of the Cookie Crock, searching out our supper, Max asked if we could try canned fish, sardines, or anchovies, or something. Whatever it was we had at uncle Paul's birthday party, last summer.

Round One: Cento, Skinless and Boneless Sardines in Pure Olive Oil: No. Not bad. But not the ones we enjoyed at Paul's birthday party.

We will not give up. We will not surrender.

Friday, July 31, 2015

~This Moment~

~This Moment is a Friday tradition, capturing a special moment from the week~

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your moment in the comments, for all to see.
Agent A, and Agent M, on the job, at the Zoo.
Mission: Explore and celebrate.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Heart For Sharing

Close to home, far from home, wherever you are, we hope you...
*find pretty stones
*watch sunsets
*look for a blue moon
*hear rainfall
*laugh
*plan a party
*eagerly await what lies ahead
*feel relief 
*know what to do
*fix a problem 
*see something weird
*sing
*make something you can't not make
*love, and be loved

This little pebble heart was sitting on the beach, and we're happy to share the hope and caring, the kindness it stands for. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Five Good Things






Sewing again! It's the same simple dress I drafted for Maria 6 years ago, and a second time when I wanted her to have something light and cool for Hawaii. This time I want to honor the original inspiration for the dress... the beautiful embroidered dresses from Mexico. So, I've cut the yoke and sleeves. I love using freezer paper to make my own patterns; it's convenient and practical. Then I turned the edge over, twice, at the neckline, hand stitched that in place, and then added simple blanket stitch and crocheted that edge. Now, embroidery. In my usual eager style, I sketched some forms and grabbed some embroidery floss... stitch-stich-stitch and... I already want to start over. I'm not happy with the colors, the shapes, the pattern. It's so hard to stitch in mirror... making the left look like the right. Even if I do start over, I won't be too disappointed by the extra work... I need the practice, obviously. I'll tell you what's easier, and more instantly gratifying: Pinning beautiful embroidered work on Pinterest! {I am so good at that!}

Good Things...

1. I finally made it to one of the monthly Mom's Night Out gatherings. We're approaching a nineteenth anniversary. Lovely women, who care deeply and share generously.

2. Learning to be patient... though I admit this is something I can still work on.

3. Another successful dance performance for Maria; this time at a wedding. The special bonus was being with Emma and Priscilla.

4. 1.5 minute showers... three times a day, to beat the heat.

5. Talking to my cousin Priscilla about college visit strategies, as a parent... questions I can ask, services I can look for. She helped me expand my expectations, and release some self-doubt.

Who about you? Still feeling summer bliss? I hope there is good in every day for you.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Birthday Zooza-Palooza











We filled the day up with a picnic, carousel ride, and zoo explore,
then a family cook-out at Holly and Rich's place...
where there was badminton, and bison burgers, patio lights, and tiramisu!
All of this to say:
Happy Birthday, Mom-Tutu Ruth. We love you very much~

Friday, July 24, 2015

~This Moment~

~This Moment is a Friday tradition, capturing a special moment from the week~

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to see.
The weekend storm that beat rainfall records in San Diego, for July... and we loved every drop. Maria is soaked, after dancing in the shower, and sitting beneath the shelter Alex and Max put up. Books, naps, cookies and milk... all the more enjoyable with steady rain spattering the nylon roof.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Passion For Lilikoi

Passiflora edulis. We know them as lilikoi... a good syrup over shave ice, a refreshing juice, and an amazing vining plant, with elaborate flowers and egg-shaped fruit. Thanks to Ruth, we have two vines taking over fences in our yard. Our chain link has never looked so beautiful. They grow fast, and happily, so we are already hoping we can whip up some of Janice's amazing passionfruit butter... but this depends on keeping Maria from eating all of them, straight from the vine!

The flower. It's quite a spectacle. Bold, and bodacious. With stories and details as intricate as the flower itself.

Ours are the smaller, purple variety. The fruit drops to the ground when it's ripe, but I try to get them before they fall. When they are ready, they slip easily off the vine. Also, they begin to shrivel a bit, then a lot, but unless they've become spoiled, they're usually only sweeter when they get this way.

It looks like our fence sprouted Martian eggs! The fruit is a lightweight, for its size, and feels hollow.

This one is about to drop. It's so much like an egg, it even has a hard outer skin, like the shell of an egg.

This specimen isn't fragrant, and it doesn't need anything else to make it more attractive!

I sawed this open with a serrated knife. It's not hard to cut, just a bit more than you might expect, like thin cardboard. Then, inside we find a rich jelly with slippery black seeds, and a distinctly tropical fragrance, tangy. Maria scoops it out with a spoon, and sighs and delights with each taste.

The flavor... it reminds me of pineapple with peach. I haven't actually paired pineapples and peaches, but that's my final answer.

Maybe you can tell me something about Passiflora edulis, confirm something... a visitor shared with me that the vine will only grow for seven years before the entire plant dies. Kapoot! Have you heard such a thing? She seemed quite certain of this fact. I suppose I could Google this, but sometimes I like to stumble upon information, or discover the answer in a conversation. Our neighbors have a massive vine, growing the width of their back yard, practically. It may not have long to go, and the thing is... a lot of neighbors have vines successfully propagated from the first neighbor's plant. So. What do you think? Will the junior plants of the original last only as long as the first plant? Does the seven years start from when the seed sprouts? Mysterious, mysterious Passiflora!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Five Good Things

Even if it is a Monday morning, sometimes it's easy to think of five, or more, good things.
1. Rain.
2. Heavy rain.
3. Two days of rain.
4. Summer rain.
5. Lightning, thunder, and rain.

See what I mean?

I kept pinching myself, all weekend long, because I feel we've had about the most interesting and satisfying weather one could hope for, in summer, in a drought. Saturday morning found all of us, cats, too, in our bedroom and watching the lighting, squealing to the thunder, and thoroughly thrilled with the copious amounts of water descending from the heavens. And for once, it was a real rainfall, and lasting, so we had to take measures. Taking measures is when you close your car windows, cover robots, find umbrellas, and check on your goats.

Poor Goats!

Poor, poor, poor, poor goaters. They want Hunter boots. They want LL Bean ensembles, and raised walkways. They cried for umbrellas of their own. In fact, Ada left the garden cottage and followed me back to her cottage when I came out with an umbrella. Dear Tasha inspected my umbrella, even testing it a bit, but she did not budge from the tiny kitchen shelf in the tiny garden cottage. There must have been a small lull in the deluge, because eventually, I found her in the chickens' cottage, and Ada beneath the chickens' covered roost.

Here's the thing: We built this marvel of suburban farmdom, our goat and chicken run, in the midst of a serious drought, when rain is so rare, we think succulents are actually incredibly beautiful garden plants {Yes, they are beautiful, but it's with some measure of disappointment that I forego lush beds of thirsty flora, berries, and ferns. I cannot deny this.} We call it an "open-air" barn, because the only thing going through it was air! There is no roof... just rafters, and hardware cloth. And that's been fine. It's been great, but when it does rain. Heavy rain. Two days of rain. Summer rain. Lightning, thunder, and rain. When that happens, mud happens. Mud. The kind of mud that makes a slurp-sucking sound and threatens to remove your shoes. The kind of mud that holds puddles. Muck mud. Dirty farm mud. Smelly mud.

Okay. I gotta stop... I am grossing myself out. Sorry about that.

Sorry, Tasha. Sorry, Ada. They hate the mud as much as the rain!

I really do intend to jot down some good things, but just bear with me... I need to say 1. Chickens are not bright, and maybe I am not either, because I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to convince them to roost in shelter, instead of in the absolute wettest spots. This exercise left me utterly soaked. 2. Humidity and heat are not good, and neither is cleaning out an open-air barn when it is hot and humid, and muddy!

Good Things...

1. Everyone was home, and we were together to enjoy a full weekend of fun and unusual weather.

2. The air smells good. {Away from the open-air barn.}

3. Sitting and stitching and laughing and sharing, with Diana and Maya.

4. Dropping Maria off for her first day of tech training, so she can be a technology expert and helper in school!

5. Beginning to appreciate that next week we will be on the road, visiting institutes of higher learning, while also enjoying the redwoods, and fern filled canyons, seeing elephant seals, playing Pink Martini CDs, and making happy discoveries.

Here comes the sun. Are you ready for the new week?

Friday, July 17, 2015

~This Moment~

~This Moment is a Friday tradition, capturing a special moment from the week~

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to see.
The sky is blue, dotted by only one cloud, maybe two. The mockingbirds have been whistling scales all night long. There are no more apples on the trees, but the lilikoi is dripping with fruit. It will be a hot day. Hotter than June. As hot as July. But this moment is calm, shaded, still. Things feel settled in, and go unnoticed. A broken chair in a quiet corner, waiting.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

"The key left with the time traveling boy."

It's a good summer. We are stopping. We are going. We are playing, like children. We are sleeping late. We are rising with giggles. We are taking new routes, and traveling familiar paths.

Maria wrote a sentence generating program in Scratch. William calls it "Immediate gratification Mad-Libs," which I think is an apt description. We've generated dozens and dozens of random and silly sentences. I cannot forget "The key to the front door left with the time traveling boy." It's the start of something...

Another consequence of our Downtown journeys... a luxurious and scrumptious stop at an old favorite, Karen Krasne's Extraordinary Desserts. Maria and I spent almost as much time admiring each of the edible art pieces as we did sharing this flourless chocolate masterpiece, and Alex arrived just in time to help us, too.

Almost seventeen. I think this surprises me more than anything about our children growing up. My cousin Vicky wisely noted that, "because of the three boys, he is your baby." She's right. He's always been the little brother, keeping up with the big boys, but the truth is he's no longer just keeping up, he's making his own way, sometimes leading the way. His interests, his skills, his plans... they are shaping into good things, his own things. There's nothing to do for it but to watch admiringly, appreciatively, supportively, and make room for his growth.

Yeah, we've got this summer wired.

{Pun. Can't be helped!}

Alex's sculpting class has us captivated, with what he's making, with the materials he's dabbling in, with what's next. We are in love with this wire woman, 6'4" tall, an elegant form. Now he's moved on to clay and plaster, building a totem. I have a special appreciation and gratitude for his teacher who implores her students to look into found sources, and hardware shop materials for their art supplies. {Have you priced college textbooks, lately?? Good grief. Resourcefulness, and economizing, are good lessons.} Alex likes clay... that's what he learned yesterday, and I couldn't agree more. Clay is good stuff, and when I told him how I loved ceramics when I was in middle school, he observantly reminded me that I could love it, again. Take a class. Smart fellow, that Alex.

Be a lifetime learner, has been an expression I have repeated to my children all their lives, especially when we were homeschooling. "When I don't know the answer, we'll figure it out together," I would assure them. And this was well before the Internet was the gem it is today. They have taken me at my word, and soared. It troubles me that in this country we continue to make education a financial hardship, an untenable burden. Why make knowledge and skills such privileged information that students have to sink themselves into massive debt, or say pass when choosing higher education. Don't we want, eagerly, selflessly, to have the brightest and best, to support and nurture intelligence, critical thinking, and practical skills, for the greater part of our population? {Not to lecture anyone... I simply cannot help expressing some of my frustration and confusion.}

Where was I?

Sewing! William is back at it, and he is soaring with this dress shirt pattern. Not to say it's been easy, that he hasn't brought out the seam ripper. But, together we are figuring out all the pieces, and the shirt is looking quite sharp, even for a muslin. I share this as much to acknowledge his accomplishment, as to recognize how much he inspires me. I'd still be stringing fabric squares together, taking the easy way, if left to my own devices, especially if I were the beginning tailor. Not William, though... he keeps jumping into the challenging stuff. Sewing plackets, fitting collars, customizing fit and sizes. There are moments when my head reels, and I think "quit!" Not William, though, and as a result he is getting better, and better, and inspiring me to do the same.