Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The Picnic is Back!

Well. That was easy! We finally had one of our picnics, like the first one, that I posted about four years ago, when I wrote: I don't know when my life got so complicated or off-track that the idea to enjoy a picnic feels "inspired" or rare, but if you are like me, and can't remember the last time you visited a park, met friends there, and just hung out while everyone did their thing... do it! No one has to be the host, or do all the heavy lifting, and even the fact that we set a start and finish time, made it feel fun, without encroaching on the whole day. Ok... so, I am easily impressed, not hard to amuse, I know. But seriously... life needs more "easy," more low-agenda, relaxed get togethers. Drop by, sit back, run around, picnic with us... we'll be doing this again, real soon.
Matt with Lily. Olivia chatting with Ido and Spencer. Logan, his dad, Mark, and Taco the dog.
Ruth, Geoff, Alex, Max and Maria went on a hike... can you spot them atop the lookout tower?
Lucas and Max
Ruth made the vegan protein snacks we love! And when Leslie and Bex arrived, directly from Scout camp, they came with pies! Olivia baked cookies! Ido made sushi! And there were games, crafts, happy dogs, balls to toss, and ideas to share. We fell into our happy, easy and familiar picnic routines, and it was almost as though hadn't been 19 months since we last gathered like this.
Lily, Matt, Mark, Olivia, Diana, Leslie, Bex, and Simon.
Show and Tell... Ido brought out his shiny new pickle ball paddle.
Taco was a good boy. Akira was a good boy. Everyone was having a good time.

My camera shy sweetheart. He was very good, too. Every picnic has lasted a little longer than the last. I remember the last picnic, and being astonished that we were at the park from 10:30 until 4 pm. We played and played and played, this time from 10 am until 5:40 pm! And we all agreed, we will definitely meet again, next month.

As much as I enjoyed our first picnic, it was two years before I organized the next one! Even after the long pause, the second gathering was as gratifying as the first, so I committed to keeping it going... and we had a November picnic, I am pretty sure I didn't post our January 2020 picnic, and so here are some highlights...
This was the first time Matt and his girls joined us, with their puppy, Zulu! And we all learned what a proper picnic packing enthusiast Matt is! And Leah baked a cake, which Bex helped her frost with Nutella! We brought out Mölkky, which is a fun lawn game that Susie suggested we get. Carol, Leslie and I took turns keeping score, and keeping turns, and laughing. Paul brought a laser cut craft for assembling, and there were many hands to help with that. Clearly, we had this picnic thing fine tuned and worthwhile, and so we met, again, in February... and that turned out to be our last picnic before lockdown. We switched to other socially distanced, outdoor, masked, amd wary gatherings, in the meantime. But The Picnic is Back! Here are some highlights from February 2020...
One condition of Picnic Day: Excellent weather! It might be overcast, or cold, perhaps warm and breezy, but rain is not allowed! We've been fortunate. No rain, no injuries, no food poisoning, no citations.
This time Armand came, and Matt brought a friend (I'll have to be reminded of his name.) Spencer brought back his BeyBlades, and I am pretty sure I brought mine, too, because he got me hooked. Tutu and Holly joined us, so did Diana, Charles, Lucas, Carol and Grace, and Leah and Lily, and Zulu! I love that once the invitation goes out, there is nothing to fuss about, or manage... come when you can, bring what you like, stay a while or all day. Easy, and magically simple.
One thing that stands out about this "last" picnic was that on the hike, Alex, Leslie and I immersed ourselves in a serious discussion about what about this talk of a lockdown? Alex is my go-to for disaster preparedness, and Leslie, being a physician, had some strong views and good intuition about what could be coming. We talked about being prepared, and we tried to imagine what this might entail, for how long. I will always be thankful for this talk, and the steps we took in anticipation. And I will always be thankful for the community we solidified, and relied on, through our picnic days and other gatherings. The last couple of years have been easier because of friends, and our community, and as much as we have taken care to stay safe and well, even finding new ways of hanging out, we are so glad the picnic is back!

Friday, September 17, 2021

A Little Bit of September

However strong my convictions are about retiring, or if I think I am on the brink of breaking an old habit, something comes up that cannot be resisted, like the Moon rising with Venus, Mercury, or bringing home the first pumpkin of the season, the sight of storm clouds towering in the east, so what other choice do I have? I have to share. And the pumpkin was good motivation for clearing off the dining table, and preparing some special dinners. Then I even cleaned the window paint off of the entry sidelights... yes, the Christmas window paint, up since December 4th. In my defence, the paint held up very well, and it was cheery. So, here you have it... a little bit of September, from watching the sky to Windex and elbow grease. Actually, this feels nice... I do wish we could get together over tea, and Maria's cranberry orange scones, and enjoy a long, slow, thorough chat.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Dear Diary

It occurs to me that I could carry on blogging, but without the sense of failure and embarrassment about obscurity, if I imagined this, the Blog, is my diary, a personal journal. Still digital. Still chock full of photographs, and me over thinking and over sharing. And, this would be the difference... I "forget" to change the settings to "private." It's a deception, a bit of duping my own brain, which, sadly, is not hard to do. Actually, it is the belief that I am obscure, well below the radar, that emboldens me to share ideas like this, revealing my (slight) obsesssion with my blogging, anonymity, and insignificance in social media, not too mention my highly questionable use of commas, everywhere. Is it too much? I mean, with the commas? Objectively, I really, really, really appreciate the anonymity, versus how terrifying it would be to be noticed, then scrutinized, critiqued, possibly trolled. The dread fear of someone disrupting my life, to judge my grammar, or use my posts in an article about how not to blog... I feel ill. I have been fortunate, I see that. It occurs to me, in this digital age of high speed exposure, that it could be time to go back to letter writing, and printing, to sealed envelopes, photo albums on a bookshelf. I wish I was not so enarmoured of how pretty high definition photographs look, formatted and illuminated on a large monitor, and the way words and expression, long descriptions, and transcribed details, minutiae, chronology, feel like a well ordered home, a place to catch me if I am falling. And, here I really put my heart squarely on my sleeve... I had hoped to feel as though I was successful, so that the ones who did criticize me would say, "Ah, she did make something of her writing, afterall." Or the bloggers, the good ones, the shiny ones, that could have reciprocated, or nodded my direction, might have included me, shared some of what they extolled and saluted, like "community" and "inclusion." I am closer than ever to a place I think would be good, where I value my writing and photographs more than recognition, and inclusion. I had hoped to be a part of something bigger, after all of this time and effort, but now, after all this time and effort, I may be happier to retreat.

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Country Roads

We made a small day trip, with a picnic, and hats for shade. It was beautiful, and the lunch we packed was delicious. We enjoyed the views, and trekking around, but... I think our favorite part was driving back West, as the temperatures fell with every mile until we were home, again! Somewhere enroute it was 97° F, and we simply have not been acclimating to those temperatures. Oof! So, yes, we saw birds and hiked a bit, we took deep breaths of mountain air, admired oaks, manzanita, old barns, and country roads, but I don't think we will be returning until hot Summer gives way to cool Fall.

I have been mindfully practicing not complaining about the weather. I will note the temperature, or whether or not it is raining, but as I am aware that the world is overcome with some truly awful weather, and other disasters, I want to zip it when it comes to hyperbolic weather whining... (even though it has been shown to afford modicums of relief to briefly, occasionally rant.) While we were coping with thermoregulation in Julian, for instance, Bambi was in New Jersey, where the remants of hurricane Ida was blowing through, and our weather woes pale in comparison with tornadoes and flooding. Thankfully, Bambi and Gordon, and the rest of her family, were all safe.

More weather talk? Mind you, I am not complaining. I can't help, though, noting that this has been an odd summer. Really odd. There has been practically no heat near the coast. And I don't want to tempt fate, because I honestly have loved it, but it's like waiting for the other shoe to drop, and I dread the prospect of suddenly having a blazing autumn. I hate to ask, When is the heat coming? It's been humid, overcast, and we have had more than one good rain, even thunder and lightning... unheard of conditions in August, September. In fact, many days this summer it's looked on the verge of a downpour. Did I mention, I love it? The question, well another question, is: Is this unseasonal, or is this a new normal? Will summers be this way in a trending way, or are we going to remember 2021 as that anomaly year for local weather?

I wonder how many times in September I have written a blog post about how eager I am for Fall, for classic fall weather, and to feel the whole Hollywood treatment, with sweaters, boots, fallen leaves, brisk breezes, and oversized mugs of warm drinks? It's kinda happening, people. We may have even set up a display with our ceramic barn and Halloween figures. William is tuning-up the Cat, and I am going to make meatloaf for dinner, again. It's never cool enough for meatloaf in September. This is magic.
From Instagram, where I am curating my own therapy, affirmations, and safety-net. Yes, there are social media pitfalls, but. Well, some of it is gold. For instance, Marina's post, of her beautiful yarn... and she posed a question that kind of broke through my foggy, muddled head. "What are you working on?" And her question stayed with me, compelled me. I finally sat down, and made up my mind to do something. Something with paper. Something with a pencil. I kind of went back to the beginning, when I reminded myself to start, without obsessing, without judgement, without worrying about making something "good." Starting can be as hard as the doing. I am glad I saw your post, @heartbunknitsandmore. Actually, I would like to take this moment to thank all of the creators I follow on Instagram. Thank you, for making art, for sharing memes, and making Reels, thank you for posting your selfie, whether you did it doubtfully or boldly. Thank you for explaining about advocating for racial equity, Marie Beecham. And No Ordinary Moment, thank you for opening up about your journey through grief, with heartfelt expression, in words and intuitive art. Oh dear... I always have this impulse to start sharing my gratitude and highlighting everyone I admire and appreciate, and then I realize I am going to get in over my head! There are so many talented, kind, generous, inspiring, even challenging people sharing their journeys, their missions, and passion for justice, for art, for the environment, for human connection! I want to highlight dozens and dozens, a hundred or more. And I don't want a friend, or aquaintance to feel left out. It makes me sad to leave people out, for them to think I didn't think of them. Ok, so know this, if I am following someone on IG, as ChickenBlogger, or as BoomNerds, then I like your message, or your humor, or you are helping me figure things out, expanding my view, making me think, giving me hope. Thank you.

It's been awhile. I have a long list of excuses. Reasons? Well, stuff has been in the way of me doing things I enjoy, and quite possibly it is me, in the way. Maybe time off from creating isn't neglect, but rest, being restorative. I miss crocheting, sewing, quilting, painting, sketching, cooking something better than basic, making big plans, gatherings, hosting, playing, sharing. We know... don't we? We know the world is stranger, harder to navigate, not so familiar, because we are each negotiating, with what's safe, appropriate, comfortable. Sometimes, the hardest part is observing some people carrying on as though there isn't a pandemic, climate crisis, etc etc etc. I remind myself that we have our own paths, and our own desires and things that are essential, and obligations that are requisite differ from person to person. But, please, wear a mask. And don't recall the governor of California. You don't have to enjoy the mask, or like the governor, but the alternatives are actually much worse, the consequences are not worth the tantrum acts of so called defiance.

How fairy mice with flower petal wings, and fern tendrils in bell jars appear, when my head is full of angst... I can't explain. I have set my pencil to paper with fury or indignation, intent to release rage or sorrow through art, and for my effort I get cherubic ratty-rats, and mossy forests with acorn lanterns, and cats in cardigans. It brings to mind every Halloween when all I wanted was to be something pretty, or sweet, or lovely, or funny. I think it's because scary, uncertainty, fear, pain, were too accessible, too close at hand in my experience. The worlds of whismy are the escape, the departure from reality, the make-believe of comfort, and safety, and I've never known them to be bland or dull, not common, not familiar. I have a craving for sweetness, and gentle moments. And I think, Don't underestimate this ratty-rat in button down sweater, with wide eyes, she is fierce, she is courageous, and righteous. She overcomes obstacles, and defies injustice, cruelty, to take tea from a sea-shell cup, and sit in company with her friends, the birds and the toads.

Geoff and I have been taking longer and longer bicycle rides. Lately, it's not unusual for us to ride twenty miles, or more. And my favorite part is when the last 3 or 4 miles become long talks, as we pedal north, then south, then north, again. We talk about the young folks, what they are up to, and what lies ahead. We talk about adding on to the workshop, building, designing, planning. We talk about going one direction, but then turning around, and starting another way. We talk about how fortunate we are, because even when we get off-track, we always want to go forward together. Yeah, that's figurative, and literal. I love our bike rides. I love our talks. I love Geoff, and how with him I feel lucky, I feel like my life is more, and better, than I imagined it could be.

It must be obvious, but I don't always know where these posts are going to head. Just now, I feel like I have been driving back country roads, and just narrating the sights, the big views, the immediate impressions, and concerns. On the left, we see some cows beneath oak trees, and ahead a bakery. Blogging is a funny thing.