Friday, May 08, 2015

{this moment}

A single photo, capturing a moment from the week.
A special moment. A moment I want to 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 see.

Whatever moments we've enjoyed this week, none seems quite so prominent, so noteworthy, as the rain that is falling. It's not sprinkling, nor drizzling. There are actual drops of water, falling in multitude. We have puddles, and rivulets. It's cold, like what we might have enjoyed in winter. I've heard that it's been snowing in the Sierra... something in the bank, some small savings. What a wonderful balm for our worries, for the frets of the week, the dry ground. I am happy, too, thinking of our seedlings and sprouts... what better way to begin a new garden than with rain.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Yarn Quest

Before leaving Portland, I was eager to get my hands on some yarn. I find it really helps to get absorbed, hands and mind, in something meditative when I am in an airplane. It helps to be sewing, or crocheting, during take-off, during landing, during the time when you can't get to the bathroom, because the tiny cart with salted nuts and Bloody Mary's is soothing everyone else's nerves. Yes, for all those times, I need yarn! What a stroke of good fortune and timing, I found Close Knit, and an UltraPima cotton yarn, in teal. The only disappointing part is there were only 4 skeins. I'm a goof. Why even start something, like a shawl, when I know I am going to come up short? It's just that I really enjoy the pattern, and couldn't resist diving in. I've already finished with all but one ball of yarn... now begins a second quest, for more yarn, in this corner of the country. I kind of love these minor catastrophes, these suburban trials, with no greater consequence than a smaller-than-hoped-for shawl. I raise my righteous fist of obsessive craftiness, and declare myself genuinely goofy!

*9:08 am Update*
The yarn is all gone, and I am only inches from finishing the end of a row! If I cannot find the same yarn, then I'll have to frog the entire last row, for lack of inches!?! Oh woe is me with such vexing perils.

**Friday Update**
So. I found the one store in our area that was listed as a carrier by the manufacturer of my yarn. Unfortunately, they don't carry the color I need. The woman on the phone was sympathetic... which is lovely, and she suggested I visit the "Knit and Crochet Community Ravelry. Apparently, people in that group sell their extra skeins of yarn. I've known about Ravelry, but have never joined, because I am shy, and have a terrible penchant for self-depricating humor, which causes me to mire in a tangle of insecurity and self doubt. Or is it that my insecurity and self doubt feed my self-deprecating humor? Either way, I have never felt Ravelry worthy. Flarkus, am I stuck with a shawl that is too small?

***Minutes Later, Since the Last Update, Update***
I Googled the yarn company, so I could do another search for my yarn, and the very first hit I opened was for "America's Yarn Store," and what do you think?? Of course, they have it, and it's on sale, and I've ordered four more skeins! Basically, this illustrates the very thing Geoff was explaining to me in 1991: "The Internet will be a web-based shopping center where everyone will buy and sell anything you can think of." And when he said this, I laughed and laughed, and asked him to read me more Dan Quayle quotes, because in 1991, that was all the Internet was really any good for... which shows you why I pay much closer attention to things Geoff tells me about the future. You guys, you can buy anything from the web-based shopping center that is the Internet!

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

We Call Our Home The Bird House

Our first days in this blue house, we saw quail daintily gliding across the fence stringers. If you've never seen quail, they are at once charming, and move in a distinctly endearing way... heads pert and erect, tiny feet dancing forward. If you don't happen to notice that their feet are doing the work, they can look as though they are being conveyed by an invisible thread. Seeing them made me feel like our home was lucky, extra special. Then we saw Western Bluebirds... a species I've longed to see for as long as I could remember. The Bluebirds nest beneath the Jacaranda tree, sit on the fences, visit our garden. A tree in the front yard has been filled with Cedar Waxwing, another bird I'd hoped to see, ever since we lived in Minnesota. We've watched owls, hawks, sparrows, finches, doves, and, of course chickens! Then came the saga of the Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher, when we were visited by birders from all over the globe, all come to see a rare bird wintering in our neighborhood. It seems like from the beginning we have enjoyed good fortune and happy visits from birds, and even for us people folk, this house has been our long awaited place to come home to, to nest, our Bird House.

Sometime around the start of the new year, I began putting out peanuts for the corvids... I was hoping to make friends with the crows who frequent our yard. They are such smart birds... Nature has a fascinating program about crows: A Murder of Crows. In only a matter of days we did have some corvid visitors, the Western scrub jay. They are territorial, a bit boisterous, blueberry blue, and intelligent. It turns out, they can also be friendly and engaging.

Our friend comes most days, now. He takes the peanut and buries, or stashes it in the yard. Those caches are stores for later, and he may keep track of as many as 200. The first time, he came to my hand was on a whim, when I saw him near and held out a peanut, thinking wouldn't it be impossibly cool if he took it? And he did! Now, we've all fed him from our open palms, from the brim of a hat, and he even sat on my shoulder. Every time it happens I feel lucky, like a fairy tale princess. {Next up: Squirrels sweeping the kitchen, bunnies folding the laundry!} This is, indeed, a good home, a happy and lucky Bird House.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Beautiful Alberta Arts

Pull up your comfiest seat... I'm going walking, again. With only 16 hours to absorb all of Portland, I walked until night fall when I arrived, and was up with the birds the very next day. I've never regretted taking pictures. I've never come home, uploaded my photographs, and thought, Oy. There are too many pictures. Why did I take pictures of everything?? It's never happened. Not even close. And while I've never posted all of the pictures I take, sometimes I post a lot. And today... today I am going to post way more than a lot. Today I have seventy-five photographs edited and formatted to publish on this here blog. You don't have to dare me, and it's too late to dissuade me, 'cause I am going for it. Starting with that stick you see up there.

The stick stopped me in my tracks. It beguiled me with its stickness, the moss, the lichen, the colors, and textures. I wanted to bring the stick home with me, but was discouraged by the memory of an airport security pat-down I endured in Canada. Those get personal. I couldn't risk it. I am thankful for this photograph, for the memories it recalls of the morning in Portland when I was walking briskly and taking pictures of anything beautiful, including my breakfast, a menu, trees, porches, a truck bed, notices, bird houses, cinder blocks, mushrooms, blossoms, lilacs, and the sky. Todo, and all, to my heart's content.

A truck bed of sticks, and leaves. Ask, and I might try to explain it, but the sight of this makes me happy all the way to my boots.

We are going to see a lot of trees on this walk. I don't know their names, common or Latin. But they were large, green, or purple, or red. They were abundant, breathtaking.

I don't know your name, flowers.

I don't know yours either. Everywhere I turned, I was being wooed by blossoms I have never seen before. These were like banks of snow.

You know you are smitten when even the sidewalks call your attention.

Little Free Library. So much to love, here.

So much to love, here, too.

Hello, Kitty.

Oh, Kitty.

Going Street. I saw more cyclists than motorists, Monday morning, in Portland. Everyone on their way to their Monday morning places.

Green house. Blue trim. Wisteria. Porch.

What is this? I really do enjoy not knowing. It's fun to be enchanted and mystified. But, if you know...

It's not just the drought, here in California, that makes me thirst for these sights... it's never been this damp, this lush, with something growing in every nook, on every stump, where we live. This green, soft, photosynthesis everywhere was a sensory joy.



For my brother, Mark: Revival Drum Shop.

Still walking...

Orange trim. Green trim. Porch, and dormer windows. Those are dormer windows, right? Anyway, that's what I imagine dormer windows should look like.

Lilacs. I know this, for certain. And the fragrance... more joy.

Community Supported Everything: "What would happen if communities took higher education into their own hands? What if education meant pursuing our passions and growing at our edges, immersed in a culture of creativity, accountability, integrity and action? What if instead of using degrees to measure our success, we were credited by the direct impact our work has on the world? We could transform our communities and build resilient new systems that will carry us through the next century."

I am not endorsing them... I don't actually know them, but I do like the questions they pose. I do like their intentions. I see maker movements, and open source knowledge as terrific opportunities for shared growth and learning. I value smart communities, healthy environments, shared resources... I feel better when everyone is doing well.

I am sorry they weren't open.

Petite Provence Alberta looked as inviting as it had the night before.

This time their bakery case was full. I wanted to bring some home.

And, I wanted to remember this crepe. The description reads like the book flap of an adventure novel... so enticing, so fraught with possibilities, that hint of mystery, suspense. It made me want to know, how does it end? It was tempting, to say the least, but I decided it was an adventure to share, so I really do have to return to Portland with friends.

It only looks conventional. The roasted butternut squash made this breakfast très magnifique. The Day Breaker. Oui.

I was tempted, but probably another thing I wouldn't want to explain to the TSA.

Every person I crossed paths with said the word "Beautiful," when they spoke. "Beautiful day." Isn't this day beautiful?" "A beautiful day to be out." "It's beautiful out here." And then I realized, it was the sky, the sun. A blue sky, no clouds... these were the exception, the special to be noted, appreciated. I smiled, and thought wistfully of the day before, when all was gray, and the rain fell, now and then. That was beautiful, too.

After breakfast, more walking. Then back to my room, to say farewell. I put my bags in the trunk of the car, then did a search for a yarn shop. Yarn for crocheting, to help me through take-off, landing, and the time between.

Half an hour 'til opening, so time for more walking...

Do you have places like these where you live? Food trucks, food wagons, food vans, purple tables, and cooks on a mission?

Lovely houses, lush trees... maybe these aren't unexpected sights. But I was so happy seeing the layers, the colors, the vibrancy, and charm. Even right down to the cinder blocks, which were like fairy gardens. Perhaps untended by human hands, but touched by some kind of incantation.

The tiniest blossoms were as captivating to me as the fullest trees.

Everything I could hope for before my flight home... a friendly welcome, beauty and inspiration, supplies, and help to get me started. I am so glad I found Close Knit.

I call myself the Chicken Abroad. While I love new sights, the chance to make discoveries, I am not a flyer, and not very daring, either. Like any chicken, you'll find me content at home, on the ground, but every now and then, this chicken likes to cross a road, or two. It helps me grow.

And then I like to come home to roost, and share my stories and pictures.

And catch up with all my chickies, in the Bird House.