Saturday, September 19, 2020

Let's Ride!


If I could, I would pack a truck with essential things, like a map, cups, and plates, a cooler, and blankets, boots, and swimsuits, a box of paints, paper, brushes, the good binoculars, all of my travel pillows. Pre-dawn, I'd rouse everyone, "Let's ride!" Cats, too. And away we would go, to anywhere. Anywhere with oak trees, and farmstands, anywhere with mailboxes lining dirt roads, and cows. The places where you find a general store, bakery, the remains of a harvested cornfield, pumpkins stacked on stoops, and new sights around the next bend in the road. We would make lunch from the apple orchard, where they're selling goat cheese, and loaves of bread, jars of local honey. We would stop at the river, skip stones, and wade in up to our knees. That's where we would pitch our tent, at dusk float on our backs, count bats, then fall asleep to owl calls. If I could, I would walk the cats on leashes and let them roll in the redwood duff, then wake everyone with flour tortillas cooked over the fire. We would drink pinole with cinnamon and chocolate. Then we would spend a day doing nothing, or anything, like painting, birdwatching, reading, napping, digging holes, collecting ideas, sorting through memories.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Nice Blogs

September 11
September 13
Spider webs, and dew, foggy mornings, cats that want to snuggle, lingering in bed on cool mornings... I am not taking any of this bliss for granted. I promise, I was as selective as I could be, and I could have shared three times as many pictures of water droplets on gossamer threads.

We have been insulated, sheltered, from all but smoke haze. Each day of cooler weather, of fog, brings forth a sigh of relief, and mindful concern for all of the rest of the West. I don't assume that our reprieve from heat and wind, is because Fall is coming. We are as much in wildfire season as ever, and the real answers lie in adressing climate change head on.

Going all the way back to March, we spend more and more of our outdoor time in our front yard. Periodically, we hosted gatherings out there, and our Little Free Library has been out front for long while. But since the Stay at Home Season began, we do more and more in the front yard than ever before, from movie nights in the driveway, fireside chats, safe-distance breakfasts, and our own family meals, we are drawn to the shade of the Torrey Pines, the open space of our wide driveway, and the chance of seeing friends out for a stroll.
September 14
Classes and studies continue to go well for Maria. She baked banana bread last week, and this week she begins the section on pastas. It's not hard to add up all the things missing, but she manages very well focusing on what is working, adding other activities to fill in gaps. With Alex and Bambi, Maria has been practicing weight training, yoga, and ballet, and she's keeping up the D&D. Maria and William share lengthy discussions on language, etymology, literature, and culture. Max is waiting in the wings, eager to be her math tutor.

Geoff is programming from home, and continues to fill every waking moment with all sorts of activities, including a huge dive into laundry conquering, preparing for the arrival of a highly anticipated laser cutter, working with Alex on making a forge, cycling, and making designs for new front yard features. I am not sure when he rests, so I try to compensate for him. William is diligently managing several design projects, including a future house addition, the new front yard feature, and a giant cat. I wonder which we will see first, the new front yard feature, or the giant cat? Maybe both at once, and soon! He is also doing more contract work, 3D printing products. Alex, is working on making the small forge, he helped install a punching bag, and he's making art, as well as managing the narrative, and gaming for D&D. Bambi is taking online courses, keeping up her personal art projects, and interning, plus she is a phenom in the areas of organizing and motivating. If we had a larger room, I would definitely enroll in her ballet class! Max finished two actuarial math courses, and now his degree is clear and complete. I love when he leans close to me and whispers, "It's Tuesday. And. I have no school." He smiles, thankfully. He reorganized his desk, and settled into a project that he's visited off and on over the years. He is developing an entire deck of Adventure Time themed card for Magic The Gathering. He's also organizing MTG games, which means engagement and activity with local friends, at our large table, with plexiglass dividers, for safety.

I dabble, like always. I've probably spent most of my time sitting with goats and chickens, as well as cooking, and stargazing. I managed to crochet a couple of things, and then it got very hot, and I got, sorry to say, bored. That's ok. I usually switch crafts and projects, from embroidery to crochet to sewing, then printmaking. The one activity I have most missed, though, is sketching and painting. I don't know what has been my block, why I havent been able to do the thing I was loving so much. But. Maybe the block has cleared. Geoff and I were out riding, and came upon an old truck. I do love old trucks, but I couldn't have guessed how much I am inspired to paint them. On the same ride, I saw a pretty bunny. He was standing, alert, backlit by the setting sun, and then I wanted very much to get home and sketch, paint. I am anxious for it to turn out the way it's pictured in my head. I should know better, but the tension is absorbing, and a welcome distraction from news, and news, and news. Oh, and I am definitely heavily involved in designing, advising, and planning the new front yard features, and that is an excellent occupation!
September 15
Are you curious? About the the new front yard features? I've already hinted and described parts of it on Instagram. For a long time we've wanted to make a transition space between the street and our home, where we could extend the intention and mood of our Little Free Library, and Maker Events. We also have wanted to make a retaining wall for the slope that faces our house, and support the two, large trees. So! With help from Mike The Builder, we are widening the driveway with a retainting wall, and building a deck adjacent to the Little Library. Social isolation and COVID mean this project won't have quite the same purpose as we originally intended, but we are thinking forward. If we build it... progress, justice, and gathering will come!

Oh! And the zucchinis, onions, and sundried tomatoes, in the pan? Just so I don't forget the meal William and I collaborated on, because everyone loved it! We have loads of giant zucchinis coming out of the garden. I froze some, shared some, and we are eating lots! William cooks Tuesday dinners, and he's developed a yummy pasta dish with creamy (vegan) sauce, and steamed broccoli. This time he thought we should try something with squash, and I came up with sauteing onions with zucchini in oil from a jar of Trader Joes sundried tomatoes, thyme, salt and pepper, then adding the tomatoes, too. Now I think of it, I should cube and freeze more zucchini!
September 16
Sharing may be one of my most favorite things to do. And I have been very fortunate to experience some lovely, treasured, occasions of giving, and receiving.

Kim, the mail was slow, and we know what that's all about, but it sure was worth the wait. She sent me this hand made card, and inside was a fairy, with wings, and lace, and a gentle face. It's hard to describe my reaction, but I feel delighted, and loved, and inspired, and good. Thank you, Kim, for the warm glowing pleasure of being one of your friends.

Someone was "sorry" to have visited Chickenblog, and let me know about that in a comment on my last post. There was also mention of "nicer blogs," and that got me thinking about nice blogs and IG accounts, so I thought I would share just a few I enjoy. And if you are ever sad, or lost, or angry, silly, happy, creative, weird, bored, tired, confused, weary, hurt, healing, loud, quiet... you don't have to hide your feelings, or be something, someone, other than yourself. We are, you are, I am, complex, unique, individual, worthwhile, and good, in all of our moods, with all of our feelings.

Here are some Nice Blogs...

oonaballoona, by Marcy Harriell, is something I only just discovered yesterday. She has these Reels on Instagram, where she shows dresses she sews. I found myself thinking, "Now, why have I forgotten to twirl, to spin in a full skirt, with all of the colors and smiles, and love, like I did as a child?" She hasn't forgotten, and her effusive joy is infectious!

I have this frequent wish, that bloggers would come back to the Internet. Not influencers, not corporate spokespeople. I am talking old school, friends, neighbors, like No Ordinary Moment! She's back, and writing, sharing, reflecting. And I think we need more of this, more voices, and points of view, more original content, and ideas.

Speaking of original Calamity Kim is the original. I have said it before, and I will say it again and again: Kim is the hardest working and most generous artist, crafter, creative out there!

I admit it, I have become a plant lady, an indoor plant enthusiast. I have a ways to go before I am knowledable, skilled, worthy of being a real Plant Lady. And so, I depend on the kindness, enthusiasm and good tips of people like Garden Marcus, and the Plantkween, Christopher.

This mention is all about a voice, and supporting this young woman, Samara Joy McLendon, singer, student, and soon to be recording artist. She is very close to reaching a big goal, and I hope we will all be enjoying more of her music, soon.

Over and over again, Alexis Nikole, Blackforager, has me saying, "I did not know that." And then smiling, with her, when she comes across something growing, something edible, something good, where she is foraging, cooking. She's excited about the world around her, and it's very nice to explore with her, through her posts.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Witch Friday

Introducing, Maria, the new Instagram account manager for Witch Thursday, the high school activity and mood, that was started for diversity and inclusion, freedom of expression, creativity, and tall, pointy hats, in other words... for fun!. Maria has been an enthused and devoted Witch Thursday participant since her freshman year, and she's eager, even when school is happening remotely, to keep the tradition and spirit alive. On the surface, it's a day to wear witch hats to school, but what she holds dear is the message that everyone should feel safe and welcome at school, in the world, to be their true selves, to be comfortable dressing as, expressing, and celebrating, who they are, and the best attention it can draw is for acceptance and respect for everyone. It began with students, continues with students, and the hat is passed along, when students graduate. At the end of 2022, Maria will find a new Witch to inspire and celebrate expression, and Witchness.

That jar of jelly is from Carol and Grace, some of the friends that we shared passionfruit with. They made it, and it's like a jar of sweet-tart gold. I love how they only added a little sugar. It tastes like they've jarred summer in the garden, fresh and flavorful, bright, special. I am going to check on the vine, as soon as I finish this post. Hopefully, we still have lots of fruit, because I'd love to send them another bagful, if they'd like. We made some juice, and some passionfruit butter. And I froze some. Now, I think of it, maybe I will toast bread and have a snack, before I go out to harvest more fruit. It's so yummy.

Not the moon, not a trick of the lens, the sun was already high, yet hardly recognizable through the filter of smoke. It's really hard to know whether it is actually cloudy, or just polluted. Thankfully, the smoke, around here, has been much higher in our atmosphere... we don't smell it. North, all the way to Canada, I guess, and south of here, are orange skies, falling ash, and hazardous pollution levels. We are relatively spared. I read the news, and despair. I follow friends' accounts of what is happening in San Francisco, around Sacramento, across Oregon, in Seattle, and in our own County, San Diego. It's stressful. We still have months of seasonal, heat, wind, and anxious watching, ahead of us.

The artist Mary Englebreit, is best known for her bright illustrations of Scottie dogs, cherry bowls, and cheery cottages, but if you think she's only sugar and nice, you might appreciate knowing that she has no tolerance for fools. Her messages give me hope, and appreciation. I love that, like me, she's done with seeing, respecting, "both sides" and sitting quietly by. Here's something she posted recently, and I love her for drawing a clear line, "If you still support trump after everything everybody knows now, get off my page. My art is not for you. My pictures of my family, my home, and my life are not for you. I don’t care about losing you as customers—- as for followers, I’m after quality, not quantity. I’m not taking comments on this post because I know most of you agree, and I don’t have time to block all the bots and trolls who show up only on my political posts. No point in trying to reason with people who support their bat-shit crazy cult leader no matter what, and no point in arguing with people who can’t see a difference between Biden and the anti-Christ. This will be the last trump post from me before the election, unless he drops dead, resigns, or is driven from office. No point in beating a dead horse— you’re either a moral, sane, intelligent person or you’ve sold your soul to the devil. Vote BLUE in numbers they can’t manipulate!!

Yes. That sums it up very nicely. I feel a little hoarse and drained from trying to speak my mind, and so it's nice to borrow from someone who makes a good, clear message. When political views result in suffering of another human being, they are no longer political views... they are moral choices.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Between Moons

September 3
Distance learning, with spirit! Whether online, or in line to pick up text books, Maria is keeping to classic school club actitivies and themes, like Witch Thursday, the day created to remind everyone to dress as you feel. We love this school. We love the integrity and intelligence, the spirit of the students who are there, who have come through there.
September 4
First cooking assignment for Culinary Arts: Scones. And Maria chose to bake cranberry-orange scones. I think it's all about quick breads, because biscuits and pancakes, then banana bread, are coming up. May I, briefly, wax poetic? Maria's scones came out pretty, appealingly pretty. By the time I got to sit down and enjoy my serving, I decided to make it a mindful, special moment. I made coffee, I brought out a pretty plate, I sat at the dining table. I am so glad I was intentional, because her baking was transportive. Each bite made me recall the pleasure of cafes, of going out, of being at a bakery, some place you find at the end of the day, on a tree-lined street. My thoughts wandered. I thought of novels, heroines, linen aprons, garden kitchens, the waning light of a softening summer, the painstaking saving of fruits, nuts, spices, in preparation of holidays, Winter. Maria's baking made me feel hopeful, thankful, sated. That's a lot to derive from a scone, but it was a very pretty scone, and delicious, too, and I am reminded of all the good that comes of slowing down, being mindful. It's a gift to take notice, to enjoy all the layers.
We are between moons. September 2, when the moon was full, it was the Full Corn Moon. And here is our corn, nearly ready to be picked. This month there is no Harvest Moon, that comes October 1st, this year. And then a Blue Moon on the last night of October. The Harvest Moon is not associated with a month, but with the autumnal equinox. On September 22, Fall begins in the Northern Hemisphere, and the nearest full moon will be the Harvest Moon.
September 6
Fond as I am of the phases of the moon, tracking Venus and Mars, finding Vega and Arcturus in the night sky, and all things Fall, we don't get much of that classic autumnal, seasonal stuff. In fact, the only waning light is from smoke blotting out the sun. The world is murky, hazed, like we are walking through an Instagram filter. And hot. I resolve to complain as little as possible about heat, but when it's record breaking, when we hover around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, all bets are off: It felt otherworldly, still, and foreboding, like the sun would refuse to leave the sky, and hold us, fevered, and dry, without pity. Yeah, that hot.

And, count us safe from the Valley Fire, which is burning south and east of here. But my brother and sister-in-law are in the evacuation warning area, and have been packed to go since Sunday. I was deteremined to write one post without getting "political," but. Can we please please please look into climate change, consider the possibility that these record breaking events are not normal? And if they are not normal, if disasters, and pandemics, and global unrest are making everyone uncomfortable, wouldn't it make simple sense to be concerned, to want to make changes, to intervene? The heat, the damages... they are too real to be "fake news."
Throughout the day, when the sun glared red through the smoke, I checked on the hens and goats. I brought them chilled, grated zucchini, and hosed off the bushes where they stayed for shade... the evaporative cooling, and mist helps. I let the hens free range all day, so they could follow their instincts and find their best ways of being comfortable. They liked digging into the watered soil, getting down to the cooler earth, and resting there. The light was so strange, it made my old hens think of sundown, and they went to roost, but even after the sun was finally down, it was as hot as noon.
September 7
The very next day, when temperatures dropped to the 80s, we were so relieved! Even 80s would be considered hot, here, but I felt so cooled, I baked quiches! And Maria baked the biscuits she was assigned. And about those biscuits... those were poetry worthy, too. We ate them with butter and honey, and that was dinner. I love how they came out, baked on our comal, and we thanked Nicki Salcedo for the inspiration, and biscuit tips. And someone else that's inspired me, again, Kristina Gill. In her stories she links to fabulous food posts, and I am struck by how beautiful food is, how artful we can make it. Being mindful of the scarcity of food for many people, I tend to hold back with food posts (I mean, compared with how I could go!) Recognizing hunger, and advocating for solutions, matters, of course. And appreciating matters, paying attention to our food, on many levels, lends another layer to the experience of eating. Kristina Gill has reminded me to take notice of how we can lend all of our senses to the experience of getting fed, so it's not only nutritious, and filling, but makes us smile, brings us connection to the earth, to traditions, and our culture, others' cultures. In making food beautiful, we slow down and make a celebration of the gifts we are about to receive, and that is nourishing to the soul. By making even simple fair special, we are reminding ourselves of the goodness we have to enjoy. Beautiful food, slow food, growing food, preparing food, sharing food... these are gifts.

Back in April, we were low on some foods, and concerened about when and how we would replenish our supplies. I planted onion scraps, and potatoes, we started more garden beds, and added new chicks to our flock, and I thought of later. Later, when we might harvest onions, when we would have enough chard, more eggs, some fruit, for us, for our neighbors, for sharing. We weren't desperate or without options, but we were mindful, we were thankful, and we wanted to feel more secure, more capable. I recalled all of these feelings and ideas, and the work we did, as I made the quiches... I sliced the onions that were grown from sprouting ends, we still have chard, the zucchini is plentiful, the pullets are laying, as the old girls slip into their golden years, retire. Thankfully, with a sense of relief, I made our lunch, and I sighed. I'd like everyone to have fresh produce, and a cutting board, a good pan, cooking oil, and time to make a pretty meal, to sit down, eat slowly. Good things are better shared. I love recognizing how healthful and soul-lifting it is to see beautiful food, to put as much care and love into what we make as we possibly can, and share as much as we possibly can, too.

This morning, another gift... Dew! Almost rain. I can scarcely believe my senses, but it smells like rain, like the dry earth is taking a sip. The ground is damp. It's almost rain, and better than a mere mist. More would be wonderful. More rain, mist, dampness, all up and down the western coast, please.