Friday, July 13, 2012

Polar Plunge

It is not deep. It is not in good repair. It has no "extras." The deck is concrete liability: You have been warned. Walk, visit, enter, linger, hang-out, wade, dip, paddle, swim... at your own risk. And, it is NOT HEATED.
As for our summer weather... I'm not sure we've peaked much over seventy degrees. We have a heavy marine layer, lately mixed with some subtropical semi-storminess. We have a constant breeze blowing, which in certain conditions would be calculated as "wind-chill."

People, conditions are not favorable!

You seriously have got to be just a little bit mad to swim in our pool.

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wednesday Was...

Is your summer whizzing by?

Our summer is... not only are we in July, but we're about wrapping up the second week of July! How is this even possible? Just to make things feel even more advanced, Comic-Con begins today! We didn't get tickets: It's out of hand, the crowds, the mad scramble for passes. Sigh.

Alex went for a walk, late yesterday afternoon. When he called me, he had stumbled upon the new farmer's market, down by the train station, Come check this out, he implored. Max and Maria, and I hopped in our trusty marshmallow van, and arrived at a wondrous sight... a carnival of tents, downtown, live music, smiling faces, and tables laden with fresh produce, breads, honeys, chips and salsas, flowers.

We brought home some chunky-rustic pestos, avocados, peas, strawberries, and two half pints of vegan, soy-free gelato... coconut-caramel-banana, and blood orange! We also learned where we can find local honey, and Max wants to come back when the fish monger has clams.

The market pesto, together with our garden tomatoes and carrots, some pasta, and a little cheese... and we had an easy, cool-crisp summer dinner.

Sanka enjoyed grass gone to seed salad, seasoned with carrot tops.

The Flopsy bunny, exploring and delighted to share in our dinner, too.

Here is Max. Can you guess where he is? He is aloft. It's funny, because it is punny. He is putting together the loft we decided to add to the barn. It is nearly impassible to get into,
it's three feet wide, and runs the length of the Barn... almost fifteen feet. Watch your head!

I'm sure you can see the potential for storage, up there... a box or two, some sleeping bags, maybe some suitcases. But would you ever consider sleeping up there?! I just peeked in the Barn... Max and James slept aloft, William took the bunk, Alex slept on the cot, and Maria had the nap mat! Max peered down at me, and gave me a drowsy thumb-up.

The leaves are fading, getting the mildew that comes in this coastal environ, and the pumpkins are turning that marvelous shade of here comes fall!

The roses are blooming, and it's hard to say whether it is because of the goats or in spite of them. They ate all the dead leaves, the rust covered leaves, the debris on the ground, and that was awesome. Now I have to keep them off the tender new growth. The roses aren't meant to be 'tree-roses,' but the goats are enthusiastic pruners.

Oh. Hello, Betty.

White. Cotton. Embroidery. Drying on the line. I like.

It was a nice evening for being outdoors, for getting things done. Well, technically Max is not outdoors, but the Barn, with the doors wide open, feels very connected with the open air and garden. I watered our sunflowers, picked more tomatoes, fed the critters, and tucked everyone in.

Finish your snack, goats, chickens. It's almost time for night-night.

Look at Ada's tail... how it's split, and curls back on itself. It looks like an open heart.

William, and Chango, and the cool of the evening.

We could see Max, working by lantern light, in the loft. Outside, James and Alex were building a nice fire.

Hello, James.

Hello Grant, and Suki. They squeezed in a quick visit, before heading back into their costume workshop, where they are assembling and constructing their alter egos, and Comical personas for Comic-Con.

Eventually, Geoff came home, which is always a happy event. Soon there was tooth brushing, all the usual sort of settling in activities, and then the day was done.

Wednesday was busy, and quiet, warm, then cool, simple, satisfying. Wednesday was good.

Thursday! Already? What goodness is in store for You, today?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Farm to Farm to Farm

My language is more expansive than our actual garden and backyard menagerie... so, please, forgive me for referring to our place as a farm. I just like to immerse myself in however much, or little, farmness I can summon. This is why our shed is called a barn, though it has technically evolved into something more of a summerhouse, or cottage, because I want to believe we are building our little homestead. This is why when I rake out the yard, where eight hens, two goats, and two rabbits live, I wear a wide brimmed straw hat and full apron, and imagine that our two apple trees will keep us fed, because I enjoy the sweet, delusional moment of self-reliance.

We may not have a real barn, and God forbid we have to rely on our garden for all of our meals, but I have managed to accumulate enough critters, vegetable beds, and farm-like chores, to make it all feel quite genuine. The chickens do wake me in the wee hours, and the goats do escape and run amok, there is a great deal of bleating and clucking, gopher trapping, coyote proofing, pest plucking, compost turning, apple pickin' work to do around here. And I realize it ties us to the Bird House, in a dutiful, farm-like fashion.

To be honest, I kind of appreciate getting away from our farm, even for a day. I think everyone enjoys time out, space away from their regular routines and duties...

Which is why I asked the family if we could go to Coral Tree Farm for fun. For something different. I mean, you know... their goats are big and there are twice as many, so that's different!

Their goats are much bigger than ours, but they have this much in common... they love to be scratched, just like our Tasha and Ada. These Swiss goats are as big as they were when we first met them, but now we have our own goats to compare them with, and the difference is quite striking.

In hindsight, I am amused, realizing that with free time and a mood to celebrate, two activities I was drawn to involved visiting other farms! Spa treatments? High speed boating? Poolside drinks? Shopping? No. No, thank you. Could we please see some goat pens, and follow ducks around a garden? Please.

Don't I have just the most obliging, patient family?

Answer: Yes. I do.

One duck is Piddle, and the other is Puddle. Or... was it Piddle and Paddle? Oh, dear. Not only can I not tell them apart, but I think I've forgotten their proper names. Now, I am embarrassed. Never mind. The important things to remember are that they walk upright, and have dear expressions.

When Geoff comes home, I am going to ask him if he remembers their breed. They're amusingly much like penguins. We tried to coax them over to the mint where baby grasshoppers were ready to be cleared out.

Maria and Geoff made a perfect yellow grain road right up to the mint...

But the ducks were more interested in their tub of water, and then slipping under the fence to find their own path.

So. Yes, we got away from our farm, and to relax and take in something new we visited another farm. But! The next day we were totally radical, even leaving our city, our county! And we stopped at a real Urban Homestead! Many of you probably know about the wonderful Internet site of the Urban Homestead, the marvelous Dervaes family, and the real farm-home in the city. I've been following their journey for about nine years, enjoying the insights and inspiration they share about making the most of one city lot... genuine self-reliance!

William, and Maria came with me to visit their Front Porch Farm Stand, where we were tempted by fresh peaches, homemade soap, and fresh, organic ice cream. Maria sat in the shade and enjoyed the sweet luxury of chocolate ice cream served in a pretty dish. Seeing Anais, Jordanne, Justine, and Jules, in person, and busy, busy, busy... well, it was a good reminder of what it really takes to keep a fifth of an acre looking beautiful, and working hard... producing 350 different fruits, vegetables and herbs, yielding up to six thousand pounds of produce from one tenth of an acre! They don't just day dream about sustainability, they live it. And they are eager to share all they do, all they've learned.

And now... I am leaving my desk, stepping outside, and visiting my own, dear farm. I want to see what nonsense and amusements await me in the goat yard, and around the chicken's coop. While I am out there, I will pick tomatoes for dinner, and measure the sunflowers.

***To be clear: All the photo loveliness is thanks to the beautiful sights we found at Coral Tree Farm***

Monday, July 09, 2012

Hot Chocolate With Our Fab Four

Some of our ~what to do for our anniversary~ ideas were pure daydreams, and others were long term plans. What the weekend actually came down to was little forays into favorite spots, a long and happily anticipated trip to the theater... when we came home from seeing Moonrise Kingdom we wanted to watch Moonrise Kingdom, again. I am listening to the soundtrack. Love.

We even made our way to Pasadena, to one front porch, and then to Aunt Becky's front porch, and home again, before dark. It was such a treat to visit family, to laugh and hold each other.

Saturday night we turned up the music, danced on the porch, and had a delicious, semi-catered dinner, thanks to my cousins. They make such delicious rice, beans, salsa, ceviche. The tortillas were fresh, hot, good. There was cilantro, conchas, Mexican Cokes, carne asada. It was the kind of summer weather and atmosphere that make the birds sing, and worries evaporate. I can't help remarking on this... it was too nice not to notice, and feel glad.

Hardly anything was planned... nothing was overly thought out. We just kept enjoying things, like walking the goats, skateboarding, even sorting the laundry, reading aloud, talking, measuring the yard for a chicken run, falling asleep on the lawn! Yet, somehow, after three days, I feel like we are just returned from a honeymoon.

Maria got a long, not-so-bad scratch, but no band-aid covered it properly. Just didn't want to startle anyone noticing her first-aid.

When we worked on our wedding vows, we asked our minister to include children... our desire to have children, to honor and cherish them, as much as each other. I'm glad we did that.

Ah, well, I see there are a lot of personal thoughts, emotions, details in a post about a happy celebration of weddedness, and I apologize for any TMI-ness. *blush* On the other hand, Maria reads Chickenblog now, and I rather like her to know that I loved this weekend, our family time, our laughter, and that Geoff and I are so very happy to be married.