Friday, October 30, 2020

Almost Halloween

The Blue Moon is almost here, Mars has been bright and glowing, and we have a giant kitty, Minnie Robo Kitty, peering over everything, and everyone, from the roof of our home. It's almost Halloween. It won't be like others, but we have plans! We can't be sidetracked, and certainly not derailed. We have been sharing movie nights, and whimsical decorations outdoors. Tomorrow night will be a Halloween like no other, but that's basically true of every holiday. As this is a night for make-believe and mischief, we are rising to the occasion to devise new and safe ways to play, to be with friends, to celebrate creativity, and amusements.
Minnie came along, in the usual fashion, in coversation. We couldn't help imagining something big on top of the house, and we talked about this all summer. Once we settled on a cat, William started sketching. Then he took all of our ideas and suggestions into the computer, where we made a silhouette to project onto wood. He and I traced the cat, then William cut it out with a jigsaw. Projecting is a helpful method... just remember to adjust the image, to get rid of distortion. It can be a bit tricky. It's the same process we used to create our giant Totoro. Here, I have more details about making, and remaking Totoro.
Friends know, we've made some elaborate things... competitive robots, robot parade floats, shelters, costumes, theater props. This project was tough. Our roof is steep, Kitty is heavy. We wanted the eyes to move. I could say more about the complications and challenges, but just know: We wanted to throw in the towel a few times. And all along, facing each new technical obstacle, we knew the trickiest part would be the last part... getting it, safely, on the roof. Kitty has 3D printed parts, and laser cut parts, an Arduino that Geoff wired and programmed. The metal frame had to be welded, and made to fit the exact pitch of the roof. Sooner, or later, we employed most of our collective skills sets, and eventually, all seven of us would have a hand in seeing this project to completion.

Making Minnie was challenging. Getting the cat on the roof was harrowing... or, at least, very intense for at least 20 minutes.

Dear Santa, we hope you are well. Please, would you consider giving us scaffolding? We find ourselves on roof tops, as well as building tall or heavy, or odd things, rather often, and something tall and stable, for standing on, could come in handy. Thank you, the BOoM Nerds.

All week I was on the lookout for rain in the forecast. You know, I am always on the lookout for rain in the forecast. But we did not want to put the cat up in rain, or high wind. And we were also trying to figure out how to protect the mechanics and electronics from rain, or even heavy fog. There was never rain in the foreacast. It was all clear. Only, as soon as the last guy wire was tethered, and Minnie was secure, it did start to rain! And the next day we had freak wind gusts that lifted things across the yard, and broke a few things. Thankfully, Minnie has stayed tip-top!

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Sorting, Soothing

When we get any rain, I am going to sow seeds, and ahead of that I need to pull up dead plants, and exhausted veggies. Since the summer garden is all but done, I decided the goats couldn't do much harm if I let them roam. It was such nice weather, and the grass around the old pumpkin bed was tall. Tasha and Ada went right to work, like they were at a salad bar. Ada added peppers to her meal. We all ran around for a bit, me, the hens, the goats. Maybe one of the funnest parts of being a farmer is goats and chickens that will come for affection, for treats, that will sit beside me, or run around the yard, following me. It's fun, too, that we can keep goats and chickens, together. They get along, and make each other's lives more interesting. I miss having bunnies in the mix. I love witnessing and supporting the cycle that we have around the garden, the animals, the seasons.
Phil sent us a greeting card, with a photograph he took in France, and a fall leaf. I am guessing the leaf is from Wisconsin, not France. Maybe my New Year Resolution should be to send letters, cards, thank you notes, personal and tangible messages through the post. I owe so many replies. I imagine care packages and handwritten letters, that I am earnestly eager to compose, send off. I was better about all of that, once upon a time. But I won't pretend that I've been any good about mail in recent years. Prior to 2018, I would say that I was simply busy, literally had too much to do, and I didn't make letter writing a priority. Now, since the collision, I have the added challenge of... how to even describe this? I can't manage things very well. Everything is harder, as though even the most basic tasks are veiled and just out of reach. It's a relief to be at home, because the world is big and fast moving, I stutter when I am nervous, I forget things, and cannot recall other things, people I've met, things we've done, movies, books, dates. I can do one thing at a time, then nap, as though I put in a full day's work, focused, intense, demanding mental labor. And none of this is anything I want to admit to myself, to examen closely, because I am constantly questioning what I perceive and feel, and experience, doubting my reality, and willing myself to not be that way.

This was going to be a post about comfort, and cats, about rearranging the space on the balcony, where I paint. I was, I admit, going to say something about those pillows, the fluffy ones on the bed, where Cairo is napping. I've been self-conscious about showing them in pictures, about how fluffy and opulent-extravagant they look. Silly, of me to feel embarrassed, squeamish about them... it's because they are fancy and I am a snob about seeming to be fancy. And this, friends, is about as strange and raw a confession as I can make. But I've resolved to share that I brought home the first pillow, a natural fleece, and soft as can be, after casually touching it in a shop, and feeling utter bliss. It was expensive, and that is something else that I cringe about. In December it will be two years since the collision, and those pillows have been one of the most effective resources in my arsenal to ground myself. I cannot be in a car without a pillow, not comfortably, not without the chance of vomiting, bursting into tears, heart racing, sweating. I sleep with them, I hold them, I touch them and find my breath, stop shaking. I have learned I am not alone, that a friend, also recovering being hit in her car, had the same impulse... we talked about bringing pillows on drives, then I told her I keep two in the car, and then added them to my bed, and she thought this was brilliant. It was reassuring, a kind of relief, to talk about it with someone who gets it, and we agreed that healing and comfort comes in unexpected ways, that we would rather embrace these methods than reject them. If I could, I would give fluffy pillows to anyone in the world that needs comfort, that is recovering, or wants to feel safe... I know that it would be a lot of pillows.

I was composing all of the above in my head, and acknowledging that I am tired of nightmares, tired of unfinished collision issues, weary from being in pain, from the limits and challenges I am still trying to cope with. The recurring thoughts about how this whole event has been intrusive, consuming, life changing, tedious, damaging, hard, and long-lasting, were in my head... I was even thinking not a day, or night has gone by, when I haven't had to deal with what she did to me, and then my phone rang. The attorney is (still) helping me get more of the business of closing the case finished. She called for help with facts, details, photographs. Someone couldn't recall who I was, wasn't returning calls. If it wasn't me, if I was outside looking in, I could see it as another task, another memory jogging, more paperwork, lookng at pictures of a mangled van, twisted wheels. Someday, I hope to forget, and not feel trapped, not shake, not panic. I want to see simple tasks for what they are, do them, move on. I want to turn my head, left and right. I want to sleep through the night, or at least recgnize my surroundings when I wake up. I want to be comfortable, feel comfortable. I was only going to mention those pillows, so fluffy and good, but there's more to it than that, and I needed to talk about it... so, there it is.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

More October Days and Nights


October 14

We are still figuring out what Halloween will be in a year when we can't gather as we have before, when passing things between people is not ideal. One thing we have settled is bringing decorations and cheer outside, out front, where we can share it as much as possible with neighbors and friends. William brought out Pumpkin Head, the jolly scarecrow he made last year. And my order of remote controlled candle sticks arrived. Besides our lit Jack-o-Lantern friend, and floating candles, we are working on something really big, and keeping it under wraps has not be easy for me. It's kind of purrfect, and hopefully we can get passed the challenges that have been arising. In the meantime, we've created a magical atmosphere, with lights and blithesome touches.

This is the Before shot. All the debating about what to do with the kitchen is settled. We are having Mike paint the walls. Now that I've taken everything down, and prepared for paint, I can see how very badly these walls need paint. We've been here 11 years, and this kitchen hasn't seen fresh paint since it was built, which was at least 10 years before we moved in. Anyway, this relieves my consumer guilt, and I no longer feel indulgent and decadent. My mood is more well, it's about flippin' time!

We moved some kitchen operations outside, so we could still eat, and maintain social distancing. Mike masked up and stayed in the sealed off kitchen, and we kept outside, or out of the way of the kitchen and painting. Only one disaster ensued: We forgot to turn off the sprinklers. Maria and I were seated at the picnic table, surveying our clever set up, when the automatic sprinklers went full blast, super soaking us and our temporary kitchen. Oh, and Geoff was away, and the on/off for the app is on his phone. We laughed a lot about this.

It took me much longer to get the kitchen ready for painting than it took Mike to paint it! Rather than experiment with colors we settled on two things... 1. Something complimentary to the red of the cupboards, so blue. 2. We know and love Arrowhead Blue, just like the outside of the house. It's a big change from palest green, which is just what I needed. And we love it. It's surprising, but we find it both energizing and soothing. And we love how boldly it frames art, and furnishings. William and I have been diligently, mindfully, putting things back on the walls. I always laugh at myself for thinking that I need to record how everything was before, believing I will do things just as they were. We've changed many things, though, and that's been good, too.

October 15

Have I mentioned the coffee table book William and I are going to have published? It will be entirely comprised of photographs of Feynman asleep on chairs. In chairs. He sleeps in them, sunk in, melded, luxuriant, blissful. The Physics of Sleep, by RP Feynman Cat, A study of the feline in recline.

It's been hotter than summer. I planted the annuals, in the one section of the new garden where I am giving way to flowers and seasonal color. The California native plants I will put in the ground as soon as the heatwave breaks. I brought home manzanita, sage, and ceanothus. I have to own, it makes me feel virtuous and pleased as can be to have this chance... for one thing, I love manzanita, sage, and ceanothus. Those three plants bring me to the local foothills and coastal ranges of California. If I could add a redwood, I would. And if I am successful, if they take to their new home, then we can hope to see more birds, and the plants won't need irrigation, nor fussing over. I love the red bark of manzanita, the tiny bell flowers. I love the smell of sage, its properties and sentiment, the memories it recalls. And ceanothus, in bloom, is a balm for all the senses, and heart. Happily, the nursery was well stocked in annuals and native plants. And now we have pansies, snapdragons, scabiosa, and salvia all tucked in and looking pretty.

October screenings have included, Arsenic and Old Lace, Over the Garden Wall, The Wizard of Oz, and True Stories.
Tia Thalia's paintings made the cut, of course, and are back on the walls. Her still life is always especially appropriate this time of year, with a traditional pan de muertos, and the calénduas.

Bambi, Alex, Max, and Maria, October 17.
It hasn't been too difficult for us to stay home, and possibly we have taken it a bit too much to heart. We finally determined to visit a beach, and couldn't. Our beaches are packed! Close to home it was overcast, even foggy, and yet I have never seen the beaches as full as they were this day. We were astonished. Geoff just kept moving south, until we were all the way to the Glider Port, and even there we had to go clear to the north end of the unpaved lots before we could find space to park. Here we got above the low clouds and fog, we could see clear to La Jolla Cove, over the Scripps pier. Hang gliders were drfting leisurely in the sky. Maybe on a weekday, in the morning, we might have better luck getting on a beach, to the shore. We'll try, again.

We are fortunate to feel close to nature, and open spaces, close to home.