Friday, September 11, 2015

~This Moment~

~This Moment is a Friday tradition, capturing a special moment from the week~

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

Some moments are the culmination of little moments spread over days, or longer. Recently, a series of events led to the moment when I was, once again, connected to my friend, even from afar.

{It may dismay publishers to read this, but I've practically stopped buying magazines. Some magazines keep printing the same stories, the same pictures; I've kept the back issues, and thanks to my weakening memory and being easily amused, I find that they are all but brand new when I re-read them. Sometimes a particularly alluring cover of a magazine tempts me, but then I am dismayed by the pages and pages of ads, only to find flimsy and insubstantial articles. And so on... too many ads, too much to invest for so little return. The sad part is, I do love the feel of a magazine, the large print, the glossy images, being swept up in an essay, inspired by a project, and the bliss of holding the words and images in my hands, while curled up in a comforting spot... it is a lovely escape.}
Wouldn't this be wonderful? That was the emotional sensation that swept over me when I saw this publication at the market. I was tempted to bring it home, to savor its temptations, to enjoy the pages, while imagining my own kitchen filling with good aromas and beautiful dishes.

I resisted. Pinterest, and countless cookbooks, plenty of back issues of like magazines... all of these are back home, already, I reasoned. But, I took a picture. Something made me want to be reminded of it.

And, a week later, in the same market, I found I could not resist. Bringing Sift home made me feel giddy. Made me feel a deeply contented sense of pleasure, anticipation, and gratitude. By the time the day was winding down, I set the publication down on the bed... then glanced over my shoulder, I saw another picture. I wanted to keep the moment... my nightgown, the quilt I made, the shawl, the soft light and the anticipation of rest, of peace. I wanted something to be reminded of all of this.

Whether I bake anything from this magazine, or ever visit the neighborhood cafes of New York City, I will have had this memory, a sensation, of traveling, of browsing, of learning little tips, and new methods, of sighing audibly, because interesting people do beautiful things, and their stories were there for me to enjoy, to skim, and reflect on. And I was deeply satisfied, drowsy, content. And I felt as though this was sweet and ideal, and a worthwhile thing... that the moment was complete, but. There was more in store for me. And the next day...

Three thousand miles away, my dear friend shared a post about something she, too, found worthwhile. And I replied...

And being of like mind with Jennifer, made the moment complete.

{Thank you, King Arthur Flour, for showcasing bakers, artisans, cooks, photographers, writers, entrepreneurs,
for letting real people showcase their talents, and good works.
You publish something beautiful, and worthwhile.}

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Very Good Place

We are in a good place. I'm talking about our home, and the time we spend together, here. Our home is on a wonderful street, in a comfortable neighborhood. It's pretty here, convenient, too. I am thinking of our community, our resources, that it's possible, even likely, that I will see a friend in the market, at the park, that I will recognize that kid skate boarding home. We have good schools, and good places to enjoy our free time, and we have good ideals, which is important, because things can be better. We should want things to be better, for everyone. I love Southern California, all of California, really. And never mind my grousing about the weather, that's just therapeutic, blowing off steam. I do wish it would rain, and I do love the idea of a White Christmas, of falling leaves, and a brisk Wisconsin kind of autumn, but there is more than enough to make me happy, to keep me happy here, and besides, I think I enjoy the feeling of longing for other places, of having something just out of reach, beautiful to daydream about.

Maria and I sat at the playground, waiting for the long stream of cars leaving school to wind down, watching the thunderheads build and collapse, fill the sky with their summer show. Maria glanced over her shoulder to where her garden teacher was pulling a wagon up to the school kitchen. "I'd like an excuse to go say 'hello' to everyone in the kitchen," she confided. "Let's go," I replied. "Come on, then. We can say 'hello,' or thank them for the green goddess dressing recipe you made in class." She didn't need too much encouragement. Ms. Snaake was getting help from Adrian, unloading a fresh harvest from the school garden. Everything was going into basins and bowls, getting double rinsed, then sorted. A few apples, passion fruit, some strawberry guavas, and pineapple guavas. A lot of pineapple guavas, actually. Also zucchini and squash, even tiny cucumbers that look like watermelons. The eggplants are still producing, but the shiny fruit is getting smaller as the season wanes. Maria asked if she could stay and help. Adrian and Maria worked side by side, in the slimmest stretch of shade outside the kitchen. I think the spray from the industrial sink must have felt delicious. They worked diligently, no horsing around. Bowl after bowl of fresh produce was cleaned and readied for snacks and cooking lessons. Every class in the school works in the garden, and kitchen. Soon, after-school cooking classes will start up again, and the Junior Master Gardeners will be meeting. Maria is looking forward to both of these. Adrian spent an evening every week of his summer helping in the garden. When this job was done, Ms Snaake and Ms S invited Maria and Adrain into the kitchen and they were offered bags to fill with thank you produce.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The Stitch-Hot Glue-Metal Welding-Art-Coding Get Together

We did it. In spite of my doubts and insecurities, we flung our doors wide open and invited people in. It was good. It was timely, and inspiring, and good. Here is some of what we enjoyed...

1. Priscilla's school has been invited to hold a booth at San Diego Maker Faire, which is a brand new experience for them. She asked for some suggestions for her 5th through middle school students... what could they do at the Faire, for the Maker Faire? We played with ideas that leaned toward technical, and ideas that leaned toward crafty. Our first test idea was the the copper dancer; a Homopolar motor. It's simple... sort of. Bending wire into just the right shape to make contact with magnets at the bottom of a AA battery takes some patience. It was fun to see the wire figure twirl, and we found the secret is in very carefully denting the positive end of the battery, so the dancer's foot can more easily balance. The downside: it's a short show. The battery drained in less than two minutes, and even when we considered using rechargeable batteries, we decided this was amusing, but wasteful. Not too bad for a one time experiment and example of a simple motor, but hardly ideal for repeating all day at a two day fair.

Priscilla offered that crafty might be a better direction, and after some consideration, I thought of the Thousand Origami Cranes. I think it offers a lot that will make their Maker Faire experience interesting, engaging and worthwhile, while being an easy introduction for their first visit. The students will learn the historic and cultural significances of folding the cranes, and making 1,000 of them will be an admirable challenge. They can choose someone to receive the gift, and further their community outreach by teaching Faire visitors how to do origami, while sharing their goal and intentions with everyone. From an academic perspective, we were thinking of many ways it would support school curriculum, including: history, math and geometry, language arts, and practical art.

The real point of all of this, for me, is that Maker Faire is not only impressive, it is supportive, inclusive, meant to inspire by being receptive to everyone, at all levels. So, wherever you are in a learning process, you are welcome to share, and encouraged to learn. The learning is what is celebrated, the sharing and engagement are what matter. No one should give up, or fail to start, because they are intimidated by bigger-fancier things, or feel inadequate to an experiment, an idea, a desire to learn. Do it. Make it. Play. Break it. Take it apart. Try again. Fail. Ask for help. Offer suggestions. Support. Encourage. Tinker. Dabble. Do it, again. Even if you feel like you don't know what you are doing, when you try, when you step forward, you are already inspiring someone else to play, too.

2. Geoff brought out motors, batteries, cables, and wheels, and Maria got a quick refresher in circuitry and rudimentary car making. She eagerly shared her interest with Emma M. and Amira.

3. Anna B brought out her handmade patchwork pillow, and made some updates for repurposing it. It's made up of memories, of treasured pieces, and she even added a new square, something from her travels to Iceland. We all watched YouTube videos about beautiful Sashiko stitching. Inspiring, for sure, and also requiring tremendous patience. I am all for trying new things, as well as knowing when to simply appreciate someone else's skills and dedication!

4. Bambi is working on her Halloween costume. Definitely a DIY project, from the design up! She's developing her own patterns for her original design, and sewing a lot of ruffles! We brought out other dress patterns, and special rulers, which we hope will be helpful. William worked on cutting his custom pattern for another pair of breeches. Priscilla decided she'd bring her sewing machine to our next gathering... jumping into new ventures can be much easier to imagine when you are surrounded by friends.

5. Maria is making a drawing tutorial. She acknowledged that drawing while documenting every step, including photographing the progress, is a lot of work. But she persisted. I should also add that, this is the very weekend that she demonstrated her new found skill: H@cking. She's into the interface, locally modifying code in her browser. Making changes. H@cking for good. We are so proud.

6. Speaking of persistence... I followed a tutorial for making granny squares, and I really loved this pattern that has fewer holes and gaps than many granny squares. But my persistence got a bit carried away, and I made it really huge, and then it got very wonky, and not a bit square. So, sadly, I had to frog the whole thing. I am a bit discouraged, but I strongly suspect that when this heat wave passes, I will be in a shop, choosing colors for a new crocheted blanket.

7. The big attraction of the day, literally, was the tentacle arm. It's coming closer and closer to completion, thanks to Geoff's effective and diligent persistence. He was glad for the assistance of William and Paul, and for the awe felt cheers and admiration from the rest of us, when he got the arm properly wired and dancing! It's a sight, and a sound! Pneumatic pistons firing and aluminum rings collapsing and rising at his command. We mean to top it with something thematic, and bring it to the Faire.

{One more thing... because it's just too sweet to leave unmentioned: The next morning, after a full day, and late night of working, playing, making, tinkering, eating, laughing, and sharing, Maria was up very early, and when we found her at the kitchen sink, she'd already cleaned the entire kitchen. My heart. Our girl. She's an inspiration.}

{While I hesitate to, once again, implicate myself as a failure in the art of domesticity, I would like to acknowledge something I think is okay, even, perhaps good: People first. Our floors were dusty, and I have laundry in every state, probably in every room, but we opened our doors, anyway. I am never on top of things, or have dust-free everything, but I cannot put scrubbing and scouring ahead of creating and engaging. I cannot value shiny surfaces over laughing with friends. There is room for improvement, in very many aspects of my life, and I can't pretend my messes don't mortify me, but... well, people first. It's a balancing act, yes? Yes, for me, anyway. I can get a bee in my bonnet, and whip things into shape, but if a friend in need calls, if someone asks about making something, I hope I can put down the vacuum and meet them, welcome them. Travel, books, beach walks, digging garden beds, building forts, baking pies, chasing goats, soldering metal, designing ruffled skirts, volunteering in a kitchen, at a school... I can't suppress my interest, I cannot deny my curiosity, and I like life better when my busyness revolves around people and engagement, and not how things appear, not a dutiful obsession with brooms and dustpans. It's me.}

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Good Intentions

This post is indulgent. It is lethargic, slow moving. Summer's best days are behind us, and yet we are still with summer. The heat. Dry, or humid, it's heavy, oppressive. It impedes sleep, it hinders play, it hangs around, insistently meddlesome like fruit flies, or a rash. Things feel tacky, too bright, deflated. There's worse weather, and better ways to pass the time, but my office has an overhead fan, and so I am going to sit here, and indulge in a bit of a whine, petty reflections on these dregs of a season that should be packing to leave. It may be the ideal climate for carping, grousing, and other silly indulgences.

It wasn't my intention to complain. I had planned to share some of the good we enjoyed this weekend, or to recount a dear story about friends, 3,000 miles apart, who are kindred spirits, and always crossing paths, one way or another. Then I went looking through the photographs, and found bright, natural light streaming into still rooms, eyes squinting in the sun, overexposure, inaction, and lassitude. And so, the appeal of immersing myself in the realities and possible significances of life, in September, in Southern California, took over, and I began to reflect on all of it.

Reality... the heat makes us a bit cranky, more easily annoyed. We cannot always hide an expression of irritability, disappointment.

Reality... the nights feel a bit tortured, and long, definitely restless. Naps are not optional. Suddenly we are slumped, daydreaming, unconscious. It's involuntary. Late morning heat will lay you flat. A technical knock out.

Reality... this could be the tropics! No one's complaining about plumeria, or sunsets at the beach, and we love watching the massive clouds climb and rise over the foothills and eastern peaks. I suppose if I were not naively and eagerly awaiting a fall like they have in Wisconsin, or Maine, if I didn't pine for fall color, fall sweaters, fall brisk and crisp and cool, then what we have wouldn't seem so bad. Maybe I only need muumuus, shave ice, and to play ukulele music on the porch lanai. Maybe I should plant more guava trees, a mango tree, and make that lilikoi butter.

Some of you love the warmth, the light, summer heat. I know. Your reality is a dread of the dwindling light, of deep snow, ice, windchill, or even just poor surf, and gray clouds. Sorry. I cannot deny that I am not well prepared for the rainy season, for sad goats, and a muddy chicken run. I don't relish shivering on school days, forcing myself out of a cozy bed. I realize that late in January, I will think fondly of summer, a kind of mythical season of flower beds, sunny skies, and the heady fragrance of Coppertone in the salty air. But the real summer, that is here now, is too much for me. I do not bare this well.

I need shade.

I need cool sheets, cool drinks, and the dream that soon, very soon, summer will dismiss itself and make way for a new season, new weather, new ideas, and some relief. My good intentions are intact, and though I may be slow to act, I do hope to make the best of things. Thank you for indulging me this cuppa' whine.