Friday, October 12, 2007

The Road Taken

It's not a long drive to get out in to the country, to the foothills, up around local mountains. It's not a long drive, but it does get you a long way from the usual sights, which is just what I needed. Sadly, everything is much drier than I had hoped for. The ground looks thirsty, the trees parched. Those trees that do change color seem to be withering more than transforming. The scars of the deadly fires of '03 are still evident, and I recall the fear and anxiety of that terrible time.

And still, Julian hold her charms. We walked all over town, taking in shop windows and anticipating our pie. It's apple season and a number of places claim to make the best pies. We have our longtime favorite.

It was very cold and windy this morning, and in the buildings we could hear the whistling eerie sound of wind that wants to get in. We say it's the miners, calling from their haunted mines, and the only way to keep them from haunting you all the way home is to eat pie. Don't you love a happy ending?

We stopped at the used bookstore and paid Coco a visit. She only comes inside in the mornings and that's when she likes to be pet too. The rest of the time Coco is a mountain cat, living by her wits and mousing in the pioneer cemetery.

She is the exact color of powdered cocoa; a color I've never seen in a cat.

I've been coming to Julian for many years, and though it's changed a lot, I can't help being sentimental about what I remember, what I believe. Some of my best bed-time stories for my children come from those times when my brothers and I were little kids, running around, finding treasures, making fun.

So, we got chilled, and we enjoyed small town walks and bird-watching. We got our pie: Apple Boysenberry Crumb! We stopped in the hardware store, and we tried to find an apple orchard that wasn't completely picked-out, but no luck... something for next time. I just love next time.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Making Autumn Leaves

Lady Harvatine gets double credit for inspiring my most recent quilt. I used her zipped pattern to make use of my Moda charms from Oregon, and when I finished the top and was looking for a nice quilting pattern, I realized that leaves would look good, scattered down the center.

It's a small quilt, a lap quilt, I guess. I wanted it to cover our bed, but I couldn't find any more fall fabrics that looked good and I really wanted to resist driving everywhere for more fabric. Too bad; a third zipper would have looked good. I have yet to make a quilt that was planned in advance or came from a kit. I like the creative process, which is also an excuse to avoid reading instructions or trying to decipher patterns.

So many bloggers are posting warm, fuzzy images of the new season, and describing their hearty stews and home baked breads. I've seen many Fall crafts, and beautiful scenes with farm animals, pumpkin patches... I can practically smell pies baking and cider simmering. Inhale and sigh. Is it any wonder I feel homesick? So, where do I go when I am longing for familiar sights and fulfillment of nostalgic fantasies? I go to the places my mother took us when we were children. I go where my younger brother taught me to drive... we wound around country roads in our '64 Mercury Comet, looking for the best apple pie and stopping to replace the fuses every 30 minutes. I go where there are apple orchards and horse drawn carriages, gold mines and red cabins, memories and pines.

I've mentioned before that my Mommy should have a blog. She writes well, and she makes amazing jewelry, she's a photographer, an artist. Actually, she's probably too busy to keep a blog. She should just continue being a productive, traveling, dreaming, cooking, playing, creating woman and I will blog for her... She wrote to me this morning, and without her permission I present BogBeads, Deep Thoughts and Other Musings, From My Mommy:

"Beautiful leaves on Chickenblog!  If you had a scanner, you could scan the leaves and print them out on your fabric transfer and put them into your quilts!  Just a thought.  I know you have nothing else to do.

The albondiga soup and salsa sound very delicious.  Yesterday I unfroze one of the putanesca sauces I froze before I left.  I sliced up some zukes and portobella mushroom, arranged the slices on parchment covered baking sheets, sprinkled with olive oil and Mrs dash and roasted them.  I added them straight out of the oven into my rice pasta with homemade putanesca sauce and of course, parmesan cheese - great big yummmmm.

I downloaded some recipes for green and regular tomatoes.  I have quite a bit of both from the garden.  I plucked them off the vine because the nights are getting very chilly - didn't want to loose them to the frost.  I bought some small pumpkins and yammies to make some pie - yes, autumn is pulling at the tummy strings and it's at this time I wish I would win the lottery so I could travel to be with everyone of my  kid's home and take in the family life essence. 

Actually, I think I would buy a lot of acreage somewhere around Monterey and let everyone design and build their own dwelling in the family compound.  It would certainly be large enough for farming, an orchard, your chickens, some milking goats and maybe one or two milk cows.  There would be beautiful common barn with a red roof for Geoff's tractor or tractors and of course the trucks and atvs to get around the compound.  The common garage would be large enough for the boat, the kayaks and canoes and have a bike shop corner and a spacious tool room and equally spacious area for the farm equipment.  Of course, we would have a nice home for the family of the competent, honest, trustworthy, industrious hired hand.

Well, back to reality - it's already 9:30 and I'm in my power suit.  I did feed Roamer early this morning and I did go through deleting my daily dozen+ junk mail and handled the regular emails.  I did take care of some BAAA business - so I guess I'm not too much of a duh.

Sorry to hear about Alex's cold.  Hope he keeps it to himself and not for long.  Be well.  I love you and miss you and the kids.  two days is NOT enough!"

I am going to bring my Fall Zipped quilt to the mountains and do more quilting between apple picking, hiking, exploring and gazing up at trees. We really wish it would snow... not going to happen. It would be great if it would rain... also not likely. It's sure to be just a bit cooler, and I know we will see rolling hills, oak trees, cows, and barns. I think I'll send my Mommy a little lotto seed money... I'd love to see her dreams come true.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Un Remédio

Alex missed school today, and I'm not saying salsa is the cure for what ails him... the salsa just gives the albóndigas an extra kick. That Wikipedia link is a Stub and could use a lot more information, but I'm too busy cooking! Albóndigas is a meatball soup, which can be as varied as any soup. I make mine with ground turkey, plenty of cilantro, garlic, harina de maíz and this and that. Hopefully a bowl or two will clear Alex's congestion and relieve his sore throat. Missing school is tough enough, but we don't want him too sick to enjoy the 3 day weekend coming up!

The salsa is not a pico de gallo or fresh salsa. I'll cook the tomatoes and jalapeño, then toss them in the blender with cilantro, some salt and pepper. It's an excellent choice with corn chips or to add to recipes that want spiciness.

I will make corn tortillas to eat with the soup and then dinner will be complete. The soup has a garden of vegetables, so I won't hassle with a salad tonight. Why do other people's salads always taste better? I always enjoy a salad made by anyone else, more than one I make. And when Geoff makes a sandwich and sits down next to me, mmmm, his sandwich is always way tasty! Thanksgiving dinner is a whole other mystery... no matter how good a Thanksgiving dinner I get at another person's home, I will still have to prepare an entire feast in my own home. November cannot finish without a turkey roasting in my oven and all the trimmings and leftovers to enjoy.

What are you eating? What chases away your colds? What makes your Thanksgiving complete? Need more kitchen talk? Go over to Anne's place. She's always got something cooking!

Post Dinner Update
The boys were too hungry to wait for tortillas, so I broke open a bag of Trader Joe's whole grain-poppy seed corn chips and we served up big bowls of piping hot soup. Maria was the only abstainer; she was happy eating avocado on the chips. The rest of us inhaled zucchini, carrots, celery, green onions and savory-garlic enfused turkey meat-balls. Geoff may get to sample a small bowl for breakfast, if there's any left.

Me: William, can you unload the dishwasher?
William: Can Alex help?
Me: Well, ya, but there's not much to unload and I get to fill it up again.
William: Want me to load the dishwasher?
Me, grinning: I love you!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Christmas Can't Be Very Far Away?

I may be breaking my own record... Earliest Playing of Christmas Tunes. I like to say I am strictly a post-Thanksgiving Christmas music player, but I know I have stuffed a few turkeys, while singing along with Mitch. But before Halloween? "Silver Bells," "Sleigh Ride," "Christmas Island?" In October?

It started innocently enough, I think. I was assembling an autumn playlist... tunes to groove to when I want to evoke the gentle mood of cool evenings, reflection, anticipation and thankfulness. Naturally this calls for some Nat King Cole: "Autumn Leaves" and even "Mona Lisa." I love "Robin and Marian" a Nickel Creek tune. There is something warm and seasonal about "The Muffin Man" when sung by Ella Fitzgerald. I added some Stevie Wonder, then Elizabeth Mitchell, Bob Marley; all upbeat, homey, cheering, and I was really loving the idea of reveling in all of this happy music, when I realized that in the midst of autumnal gratitude and anticipation there is one thing I will be anticipating above all...

"Over The River and Through The Woods" will get you to grandma's and through Thanksgiving, but an early snow can bring a "Sleigh Ride"... giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up let's go! Then you want to "Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!", which is what led me to singing along with Amy Grant, "Christmas Can't Be Very Far Away."

I am laughing out loud... lay down a little snow and autumn is a slippery slope to a "Winter Wonderland!" Now I want to Hark the Herald, and Wonder as I Wander. Gloria!


Well, if music and anticipation, reflection and gratitude are the best of this season, then I am in luck, because there are plenty of days left to enjoy all of these! Merry Christmas to all, and 3 months to sing along!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Naming Things

It is time for a story and a nap. Bunny, Monkey and Penguin are napping, while Maria reads them the story of Christmas Mice. People love to ask her, "What's your_____(baby, monkey, bunny, bear's name?) and she never has a reply. They are what they are, without names, but that's not to say that she does not label things, categorize objects, people and places.

She loves to wear singing dresses. A "singing dress" is a pretty dress, that has an extra hint of femininity, a flounce, good twirl, and she likes to pull one from the closest when it's time to get dressed. She will exclaim, elatedly, "Oh, a green singing dress!" Unless it is a dancing dress. Dancing dresses are ethereal, gossamer, radiant creations meant to evoke fairy tale visions of movement, light and grace. She loves dancing dresses just as much as singing dresses.

It took some time to understand that she is Girl... not Maria, or any of the endearments we call her. When she takes count of everyone in the room she says, Wilwee (William), Ah-uh (Alex), Mah (Max), Daddy and Mommy, and Girrr (Girl.) She might additionally count Benbee (Benjamin) and Changee (Chango.)

If you accidentally sit on her imagined Angel, a frequent companion, she will ask you to please get off Ainjoe and when you apologize, and you should always apologize if you've sat on an angel, she will reply, "No woo-wees," which means no worries.

Even late at night she is rarely feepy... sleepy. She loves chalky milk... chocolate to you and me.

Glory Eve... a morning glory open and lovely at sunset. I found these blooming in Deanne and James' garden.

I am so happy to have my computer working, and to be able to save my pictures. We have a name for days and minutes, for months and years, but sometimes there are moments that we might not recall, that never get named, but which are precious. Too precious to lose. Pictures help me to hold those times, and enjoy them again.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Big Back-Up

He did it. Geoff saved everything worth saving. A few files were too mangled to retrieve... no big losses. But don't assume it was easy-peasy or that we weren't freakining out. The thought of losing 1,000's of photographs and music and files, data, school work, memories... it induces terrible anxiety and bad smelling sweat. Geoff worked almost the entire weekend on data recovery for 2 different computers. It takes patience, good intuition, experience, and did I mention patience? Please, save.

If I could, I would post photos from our dinner with friends, or one of Maria sitting with her animals, reading them a book. While Geoff monitored buzzing hard drives, I sat beside him and made progress on 2 quilts... they are still WIPs, (Works In Progress) but they've come a long way since Friday. I look forward to sharing the quilts in progress, and a picture of Alex's art; he's drawn a fascinating depiction of homework getting the best of a scholar.

So, I guess there was a time when a paper and pencil sufficed for staying in touch and a photo album held the best of our family photographs. I claim to be more old fashioned than not, but my close call with memory loss, and being away from email and posting and reading blogs forces to me to admit that I love my modern convenience. I depend on this computer. I rely on the internet and appreciate Microsoft, Google, Amazon, email, Blogger, Apple and Macs... the whole enchilada. And the foremost reason that I love it is because it is a profoundly ideal tool for staying in touch with family, friends and the world... it brings me shared moments, news, resources, answers, art, music, inspiration, maps, ideas, and poetry. What a gift.

Now I will heat dinner, bathe children, clear dishes, start some laundry, floss, and reflect on the good things. I hope you are enjoying the good things too.