Chicken Blog by Natalie

Nearly Fall - Tue, 09/18/2018 - 11:24

We are still having pleasant weather, and I look forward to seeing overcast skies, foggy mornings, dew on the tips of leaves. Some days are warmer than I'd like, but between wild fires and hurricanes, I am relieved and thankful for what nature is serving up in our little corner of the world.

I imagine, everywhere there is someone looking for relief from something. When did I ever get the idea that obstacles and sorrows come at intervals, with some time to recover, and perhaps even longer spells of relief and ease? My naiveté never ceases to catch me off-guard, and feeling incompetent. What was that quote someone framed for me? Ah! John Lennon, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." So, while I was planning to tidy the house and turn an office into a guest room... life melted our pool pump, killed the defrost mechanism on the refrigerator, and put our credit card number in criminal hands. And that's not all, nor the worst, but @#$%! I really want a break.

The other day Maria hit her hip on the corner of the kitchen counter, and it was such a hard blow, we heard it. She winced, and gasped, clenching her fist. I was getting her ice, when we all declared, Maria, you could scream, or say something colorful. It would be justified. And we braced ourselves for some foul language, a verbal release of the throbbing pain and frustration, and with bold expression and release, she hurled, "Ding-dang, dag-nabbit! It was heartfelt, and genuine, and we laughed, amused at her characteristically sweet nature. Fortunately, in expression, and manners, she takes after her brothers.

It really is nearly fall. I had to Google the date... September 22, it is, and the same day Max moves into his dorm room. My head is reeling a bit, now, thinking of all the deadlines and to-do items on lists, on our shoulders. There's a Maker Faire coming soon, and guests on the calendar. Good things, actually, but I slip further and further behind on the maintenance, chores, errands, repairs, recovery, breathing, releasing, coping, repeating.

Good things include... successful completion of my first painting in art class, but then I tried to apply what I learned to my ratty-rats, and I feel like I made a mess.

Oh. That's no way to count blessings, now is it? I think of something good and then I notice something contrary, and trying.

Let me start again.

Good things include... Geoff rebuilt the pool pump with parts he made himself, and he got the refrigerator working. I cleaned the spice shelves, and finished one metric ton of laundry. Alex is progressing on the art studio he has been dreaming up; the foundation is built, and he's ready to lay down flooring. He continues to enjoy his job manufacturing and installing sheet metal parts for homes and commercial buildings. William created a new reproduction flint-lock pistol, and it is beautiful. Max has three restful weeks between summer school and the fall quarter, and he was able to enroll in the classes he needs to fulfill his major. Maria loves her Japanese class, and homeroom, and English, and she's begun attending robotics' club meetings. She is finding her way, with grace and determination, and when I observe her, I am encouraged, heartened.

More good things... waking up to cool floors, and hot tea, finding tasty food to pack for lunches, and watching our cats do the funny things cats do. Long talks about good books, making plans for holidays, and every day, and Saturday, are favorites, and good. Popping corn straight off the cob is a very good and amusing thing, and it reminds me to revisit one of the resolutions I made at the start of the year: Use things up and enjoy what is on hand... the good plates, the favorite jams, the yarn and paints, and ideas. I forget. And then I find a corncob I carried home from Massachusetts, from Plymouth Plantation, and I finally do something with it, enjoy it. It's a good thing to remember that we can start again, keep trying, reset our course. I forget, and I am glad to be reminded, and to have the courage to begin again.

I am late and behind, I feel inadequate, fumbling, and scant, but it's nearly fall, and that is good enough to hearten me, and I will begin, again.

Let's Talk About The Weather... - Wed, 09/12/2018 - 12:10

For once, I am happy to talk about the weather, in September. Small talk, in general, is the safest bet, these days. Maria and I were remarking that we feel sorry for the month of September, in California, because it's only noteworthy for how un-special it can be. It's a month that sits between the fun and freedom of summer, and the real pleasures and anticipation of fall, and holidays. And as much as I wish for signs of fall, September is invariably hot, dry, and full of furnace-like winds. But never mind all of that... because September, so far, has been really quite blissful this year. We have sleeping weather, with open windows bringing in cool night air, even breezes, and morning fog, overcast days. The ocean is still warm, and the days do get sunny. It's been practically idyllic, our weather. We even woke up to a light drizzle, and I went around the yard taking pictures of dew drops, and then we got so excited we made a scaled-down Thanksgiving dinner, complete with cranberry sauce and roasted sweet potatoes.

Nancy, Grandma Nancy, passed away. I can't talk about it. I've barely begun to process Eunice's passing, and that was in November. I might scream if someone says anything about a long life, because I am still emotional, not rational. There is a lot I can see to be thankful for, and admiring of, but I need time. I've begun to read about grieving, and loss, and I conclude: I'm missing resources, and this is going to take a long time.

This is not the small talk I am equipped to carry on with.

Manageable small talk subjects...

Beach Season
Signs of Fall

Art class meets every Friday, and after the first, introductory class, I feel about as inclined to drop, as continue. Yesterday, mentally, I quit at least a dozen times. This is hardly admirable, or an easily manageable small talk subject. In anticipation of being in an art class, I've been going back to my sketchbook, but I've hit a wall. I haven't been able to produce anything creative, pleasing, or worthwhile. I am used to being an amateur, to struggling, and working diligently to finish my little paintings and drawings, but I am in a total seized with fear and intimidation phase. It does not bode well. At least I know with age comes experience, and in my experience the start of anything new can be rife with insecurity and self-doubt. So, my most deepest hopes are, that in time, I will find a groove, and in more time, I will benefit, develop skills, and lose that gnawing voice of doom that echoes in my brain box.

But if you would rather... let's talk about fall, or cats, or tacos.

Unspoken - Sat, 09/08/2018 - 10:16

Did I have hope? Hope that what we carry, and feel, what we believe, can be meaningful, can be sorted, and put in order? I keep saving pretty things, and all of my feelings, hopes, ideas, dreams, for later, thinking that I will have time to complete projects, finish untangling threads of thought and emotions, express it all, and that it will give me peace of mind, comfort, understanding. Instead I have things and feelings in boxes, everywhere, stashed, dusty, unseen. And I find it harder and harder to open up, to speak, or share, to even hope that any of it is worth sharing. The world feels full of boxes and I do not have the clarity of mind, nor heart, to open any.

September Bittersweet - Sun, 09/02/2018 - 10:42
The package I sent all the way to Ireland arrived, so now I can show the completed handkerchief. I guess the only thing I didn't share before were her initials. Anyway, this is the completed handkerchief, which I confess I am a bit proud of. I was chagrinned to realize that though I was participating in a swap about Beatrix Potter, I didn't have any actual Beatrix Potter themed stuff to offer. So, it was in haste that I painted Peter Rabbit, then added the tiny robin. Maybe the feeling is actually relief, not pride, because I was glad to have something that seemed fitting to send off to HC. So, yes, I believe it's relief I feel, because I am not always certain that I should make agreements or offers, participate or sign up; I have a fear of disappointing people, not fulfilling my end.

It felt good taking on embroidery, again. So I went straight away to starting the next handkerchief, settling on depicting a sheep in a simple meadow. I'd already added deep green grass and bright golden flowers, when I woke up to this sunrise, and it delights me to see that the two... the colors, even textures of the sunrise, and my sheep are so much alike.

It's ok if you don't see it. Being easily amused, I am happy to make the comparison. This may be my favorite handkerchief yet.

But between the leaping sheep and the tiny curls of the sheep's wool, I cannot pick a favorite. Have I mentioned that I am easily amused?

This little bird house came home with me from Minneapolis, from a shop in Linden Hills, Heartfelt. This is evidence of yet another crush. I've shared my Portland crush, and my general New England crush, and I'm sure I've shared my Minneapolis crush, too. How about Madison, and Door County? And how about the Troll Town in Wisconsin, Mt Horeb? Not yet? I will. Soon. There are places in the world that have me smitten, in love, in a daze, and I imagine that I could live there, and be fabulously happy, make scads of friends, and do good deeds, live purposefully, and look out every window and be glad of the views. Linden Hills is one of those neighborhoods that I adore, and the craft store, by my favorite bakery, across from one of the best bookstores, is full of supplies, inspiration, and space for making... just thinking of it has me crushing hard, all over again.

I woke up somewhat startled to realize that this is September, and the little bird house reminded me of my favorite place to be in September... Wisconsin, the Midwest, for Grandma Nancy's birthday. And with happy memories still fresh in my mind, from any number of Septembers we have enjoyed in Wisconsin, with Nancy, I imagine what we would do if we were there, now, and it is bittersweet... happy, and sad. Outside, over there, we have had such wonderful times, and there is such heartache in knowing that so much is evolving, changed, that those days are drawing to an end.

If this year has had a message, a lesson to show me, it's been about endings, these inevitable parts of life, where we lose even the best people. But I am not taking these lessons easily, nor well. Not at all. And I am certainly not ready for any more.

A Quieter Nest - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 12:11
I feel a bit turned around. Our nest is not empty, but it's much quieter, stranger. One day to the next, there are new routines, different schedules, and life feels different. A lot is new, and unfamiliar. I'd call this a period of adjustment, and there are more changes coming. For one thing, Alex is back to school, and working. Max is almost done with his summer class, and will soon be moving back into a dorm. And Maria... Maria is really, officially, in high school. (I may repeat this, frequently, for emphasis, and to convince myself it's true. It feels all too sudden, and even on day 3, catches me off-guard.) My own first day of school is next week, and in the meantime, I am urging and coaxing myself into filling my emptier hours with meaningful activities.

In the days leading up to Maria going back into a school, we kept reminding ourselves, "There are only 4 more days. What should we do? Should we go somewhere?" Then it was 3 days, and so on. And each new day we would eagerly assess our options and consider the gravity of our waning summer, the impending It, school. High school.

Being both excited for Maria, and naturally a bit anxious, too, I am happy to have a fun distraction, in the form of a themed swap, I am participating in on Instagram. It's been a perfect diversion. The theme is Beatrix Potter and the organizers matched all the participants with partners, and descriptions of our interests, and favorite colors, and our favorite Beatrix Potter character, so we can swap handmade gifts, and other goodies. I already forgot which character I said was my favorite... Hunca Munca? Mrs. Tiggywinkle? No matter. The real fun has been in seeing what everyone is making, without revealing who the gifts and favors are for, and getting reacquainted with what I like about the woman, Beatrix Potter. She was not only an artist and author, she was a naturalist, a scientist and conservationist. A few years ago I read Beatrix Potter, A Life in Nature.


But, wait.

Oh dear... I've mentioned all of this before.

Yeah. Seriously, stop me if you've heard this one before.

Something new... a few glimpses of things I made for my partner. My package has a long way to travel, and so I won't share too much. I wouldn't want to give away the surprise.

It's a handkerchief, and I painted and embroidered Peter Rabbit and tiny robin.

I keep pretending that I am not going to think about fall. And I post to Instagram that I am trying not to get preoccupied with thoughts about fall, and leaves, and pumpkins and sweaters. But, of course, I am totally obsessed... my determination to be casual and indifferent is an utter and complete failure.

Maybe I've blogged about these? Spoon tomatoes are the silliest thing I've ever planted, and if I can get into a time machine, I will stop myself from ever letting those near my home. Just a touch of drama, but the plant means to take over the entire yard! They come back, more and more, every year, and they are impossible to control, because the fruit are teeny teeny tiny and just go wherever they may. I let the chickens and goats free-range on them. We harvest them, too, but it's more than we can manage. Silly things. And really, who doesn't appreciate having silly things to occupy their thoughts? It's much better than actually bad things filling our heads.

The Anagram Sisters and our back-to-school breakfast meet-up. Surprisingly, they've never gone to the same school! Not for grade school or junior high. But, now they are freshmen, together, at the same school. I've been saying that these pictures are being taken with one of those phone filter apps... this one is the high school filter and makes them look older and more sophisticated than I am prepared to recognize. You should see Maria's student i.d. I was not prepared for that grown-up look, either.

Sorry to say, the girls did not get classes together. But, they did get classes they wanted, and like. Maria has Japanese, English, dance PE, and a technology rotation series that will include auto shop, theater, and computer programming. Next semester she'll add math, and maybe metal shop. The school has a schedule that works out so they take eight full classes in a year, but at something of a college pace... four classes per semester.

Official. First day. And a page from Maria's sketchbook, the night before. She's not taking any art this year, but she's eager about getting an art class next year, a real art class, at last. She's looking forward to so many new subjects and opportunities.

Speaking of new opportunities... Alex is enjoying his work with a sheet metal company. He gets a chance to manufacture and install, and he's working with friends. We never knew his great-grandfather, Gil, but Alex has managed to slip into a family trade, metal work. I am reminded of driving around San Antonio, Texas with my Mom, and her pointing out buildings around the city that he helped construct.

Alex is up very early for work. And the first day of school we were all up very early with Maria. But on this second day, pretty as it was, I laughed knowingly, and said to Geoff, "Well, it's day 2, and the novelty has officially worn off!" It's so much easier and more pleasant for me to be an early bird when no one expects it of me. It's really not bad, now, but when that first cold spell hits, and the blankets are too cozy... it's gonna be brutal! (Don't tell Maria I said so.)

Someone remarked that Ada has a "heart-shaped nose." That's sweet. I just love her face, and Tasha's too. They are cuties.

It seems like the chicas are mellowing a bit. Pepper and Pippi aren't quite the feathered terrors they used to be. The dears are getting on in years. Has it been 5 years since most of them were chicks? I've lost track. They are still laying, which is nice. I wouldn't exactly call them "cuties," but they have their good qualities.

I've got a second handkerchief in the hoop. This one is for me. A sheep standing in her meadow. And in the other corner, a leaping sheep.

Ah-ha! We do get signs of fall in our neck of the woods, and how about that view? Pacific pumpkins. My friend, Lani calls this the "million dollar pumpkin patch." Those lucky pumpkins!

Lucky us, too.

Since I am determined to fill my emptier hours with meaningful activities, I am thankful for pumpkin and pacific views, for street art, roses, my cell phone camera, and blank handkerchiefs, floss, and time to stitch my whimsical notions. And since I am always thankful for clean clothes, I'd better see what I can do on that front.

Are there signs of fall, where you are?

Naive Set Theory - Thu, 08/23/2018 - 10:15

Naive Set Theory. That's what Max's recent lesson was about... "set theory," but simple so they call it "naive." He's enrolled in Mathematical Reasoning, for summer, and finally he has a class he describes as challenging, rigorous, which prompted Maria to ask, "But fun, right?" And Max brightened, "Yes. Fun." He brings the fun home, sharing his favorite lessons, and concepts. Our first lesson was Saturday morning, after his first week in class. Last night he came home with Geoff, after 9pm, eager to share something new. Step by step, patiently and with enthusiasm he took Maria through the symbols, abstractions, and reasoning of set theory, until at last they finished with a truth table. I am enjoying these new expressions, like proving through contradiction, and naive set theory.

Yesterday there was a parent orientation at Maria's school, and I walked into the room in time to hear an administrator ask the parents something to the effect of... Is everyone excited to get their kids out of the house and back to school?

No, I said aloud.

I get that it's meant to be "humorous," and maybe it's actually appealing to some families. But it makes me sad, and I cannot relate to the cultural tone and attitudes about children, about our own children, that we must be eager to "get away from them," that they "lie," that they are "untrustworthy," "have poor taste," are "annoying." And the expectation always seems to be that if you're keeping it real, not boasting, then you should nod in agreement, share your own kids these days flavored anecdote. Maria gets a variety of this culture fail, too, whenever people tease her about having brothers, suggesting they are probably "mean" or "bullying" or that she must be "tormented" by them. When she was younger, and these comments were directed at her, she looked confused, and would ask, "What do they mean? Why do people say 'brothers aren't nice?'" Now, she's accustomed to the small talk, and declares "My brothers are great. I love them," with a look and tone that dares anyone to say otherwise.

My calendar is already marked with every half-day, school holiday, and long weekend, because I am excited for the time we will have together, as a family, when I can hear their ideas, cook and craft with them, travel, explore, and read aloud with them. It's not to say that I love every kind of music they enjoy, or that I relish finding abandoned socks in the living room... but I have poor taste and bad habits, too, so? I don't see any good in constantly expressing this "joke" that children are doing everything wrong, that we need to get away from them. I don't feel it, and I don't want to perpetuate the norm, because it is false, and damaging.

Now I'm all fired up. And smiling about my effusive views. Don't get me started on those horrible videos from one generation describing all the failings, and shortcomings of an upcoming generation! Seriously! Sometimes a little criticism comes in handy, but all of the hyper-critical, negative labeling, and blaming is a destructive mess!

Now, I am really fired up.

My hygienist had news for me, "You are grinding your teeth, clenching your jaw." And we had a whole discussion about how the state of the world has got a lot of us grinding our teeth. So, I'm supposed to consider taking some magnesium, and maybe I should cut back on news consumption. Of course, when the news is good, that has got to be good for my clenched jaw, and all the rest of my bones, I am sure. Come to think of it, my jaw might feel better if I just went ahead and opened up about what I think and feel, getting fired up and effusive, and saying aloud, "No, I am not excited about my children leaving the house! I am excited about them loving school, and sharing their enthusiasm. I am excited about buying fresh notebooks and more pencils, and supporting the robotics team, and weekends and holidays. Also, I am keeping them home when they are sick, or if we find something better to do."

In other news...

Maria and I found those filter things that put masks and hats and glasses on your picture. We are so late to the party, I'm not sure there is a party! But we had the best time with these, and William played with us, too. And, for the record... I am really darn adorable with a bunny nose, sparkle eyes, and fluff ears. I had no idea.

My latest shawl is done. I wanted it to have more than one or two colors, and I tried to add different stitches. It started to curl... which I guess is because of the varying stitches. But, I like it. And I'm already making a blanket now. Also, someone at the dentist's office saw me crocheting, and asked where I learned (that's a whole story)... she says I stitch "over" and that's not typical of English or American crocheting style. It was a funny exchange. I wonder what would happen if I try wrapping the yarn under, instead of over...

Our plum tree gave us more plums than last year. We hope this tasty trend continues. And everyone in our local area should get ready to come over for passionfruit, soon. And our avocado pits our sprouting. Countdown to guacamole starts now! (ahem)

I finally dared myself to actually use the lotion bar I ordered from Posie. I have this terrible habit of saving special things for the "right" time, and that is rarely a good thing. So, at bedtime, I indulge, and massage my hands with this beautiful lotion bar. It smells, and feels, as pretty as it looks.

If she didn't have a backpack, already, this Black Panther backpack is Maria's ideal backpack. (For some sad reason her mom is trying to make a point about economizing and being practical... blah, blah, blah.)

Wait... do I have a backpack? A back to school backpack? My class starts the first week of September. Everyone is excited to get me out of the house and back to school! lol

August New Year - Sun, 08/19/2018 - 11:26
Somewhere in August, maybe early September, it feels like we are beginning a New Year. Partly it's to do with school; a large part, I am sure. I feel it too, because of other changes, like how our town gets quieter, visitors go home, the beaches empty out, and we begin to anticipate holidays... The Holidays. I suppose I could think of it as a grande finale to the old year, the last hurrah before 2019. But that is not how I think of it. I am in the mood to tidy corners, sharpen pencils, and do anything that will brighten the mood for a fresh start, for a new year.

It's kind of too soon, to think of pumpkins, to picture where we will put a Christmas tree, to decide on Thanksgiving side dishes. But only kind of... in some ways, I feel it's as good a time as any. I am craving warm socks on cool floors, different colors, comfort foods coming out of the oven. Of course, it would be a tremendous boon if the weather would cooperate. People are going back to school, and I see more and more comments like, 'Summer is fading,''More signs of Fall,' and for 2 seconds it makes me perk up, and feel wishful. If only we could bypass Santa Ana winds, and the hottest days of the year, and no one would miss the dread Fire Season, which comes earlier and earlier, stays longer and longer.

Tutu Ruth took Maria back-to-school shopping. High school shopping. The whole outing was an adventure and delight, including seeing pretty shops, reminiscing, and finding the best fitting, most comfy, and darling pair of jeans. These are the style pants that Maria designs and puts on the characters she creates and illustrates, and I know just what she means when she says, "I love that I can find the pants I have been imagining and wanting, but now it means they will be everywhere, and popular, and it will seem as though I'm copying."

9 more days... sigh. When I think of it, when I look at this picture, I just want to start all over, go back to the days when she could be by my side all day long. I don't regret anything, there's little I would change (I would take more pictures!) I have just loved it all so much, with each of my children... the days, and moments, the laughter, adventures, lessons, and challenges, the discoveries, love, and wonder, the honor of being their Mom, and especially of seeing them be, and become. Back to school, and even the freshman year of high school is hardly the end of childhood, of parenting, but I've been here 3 times before, and I know too well, that this is a gate, a threshold, and we will pass through it more swiftly than I can bear. There are moments when I catch myself thinking of Max, and seeing him through high school, but that's done and over; he's a junior at university. I cannot keep up.

Seeing her, I feel an invocation of blessings swell up and catch in the back of my throat, words to pour out over her, like an intercession, a shield against real harm. In living, to grow, we have setbacks, disappointments, missteps... these are inevitable, and conducive, too. But, you know... we want our children to have their chance, to be safe, to face challenges and enjoy success, know what it is to make their own dreams come true. And just now, when I am expected to step back and let go, a little more, I cannot help but want to give her advice, and tips, magic, whole grains, witty quips, daring, and resilience... really just the confidence in herself of all that I already see in her. And if I could watch, if I could sit unobserved at the back of a room... I would love to see her in Japanese class, watch her find the best place to eat her lunch, have the pleasure of seeing her story unfold, just a little bit more.

August skies are what redeem all of summer's lesser qualities. I love the storm clouds that appear in our eastern horizon, over the foothills and mountains of the county. Thunderheads, and great towering cumulonimbus thrill me. I can forgive the muggy heat, the sleepless nights, the overcrowded beaches, so long as the sky puts on it's summer show, the blockbuster cloud displays of August.

Alex is in Fullerton, a couple of hours north, helping Bambi move into her apartment. Back to school. It's everywhere. She can come back here on some weekends, and during breaks, but I simply like it better when everyone is nearby. That's it. Too many friends, and most of my family is far-flung, and there's no remedy or compensation for missing them, for feeling sentimental and nostalgic, and wishing we knew each other, had time together like we did in the old days.

Oh what a mushy, sad mood I feel. You have no idea. Be sure, I am being constrained and rational, compared with what I think and feel.

Here are the last two of the game I played on IG, 7 books, without review or explanation. And since CB is not IG, I will annotate, because that is my prerogative. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society saved me from becoming a complete non-reader. Here is something I am extremely embarrassed, loathe, to admit, but I've hardly read a novel since... I don't know when. I read. I read the news, articles, blog posts, recipes, letters, snippets, bits, practical columns, necessary verses, but nothing narrative, nothing between two covers, with a protagonist, setting, plot. I'd lost my way with long-form stories, best-sellers, classics, substantive chronicles. Maybe I felt too busy. Maybe there was too much of any number of obstacles and justifications, between me and a good read. But. Whatever. I saw the movie, first, then listened to the Audible, and now I have the book. And that's so backwards and unfamiliar from how I ever do anything, did anything... I hardly recognize myself. But, maybe that's something to consider... maybe I need to take some time and become acquainted with me. Maybe this new year feeling and back to school shifts is for me, too. Nothing stays the same, season to season, year to year. Perhaps I should reconsider what I believe(d) about who I am and how I do things, and reacquaint myself with me, today, and tomorrow.

This shawl has become (another) prayer shawl, and in it go my best thoughts, recollections, and hopes for peace and comfort for people I care for. In each stitch and new row are my concern, love, best wishes for us all.

Well. My heading is buzzing, and I feel like stopping at this moment is like leaving an unfinished row in my crocheting. But, I am going to pause with the blogging, just now. I am going to start a load of laundry, consider what's for lunch, and give my newfound thoughts some consideration.

Row By Row - Wed, 08/15/2018 - 11:54

The goats escaped. If I don't close the gate just right, the latch is just slippery enough for a heavy goat to push her way out, and that is what Tasha and Ada did. Lean in, ladies, and the world is yours for the taking! They probably had an hour or two before anyone noticed. Well, the hens noticed. And I am sure Cairo, watching from the porch, nose pressed against the screen... he certainly noticed. They weren't completely fatigued by the time we discovered them, and Tasha still had some mischief in her. You can see the chickens know that something yummy may come of Tasha's exploring. She and Ada know how to open the feed cans, but maybe they were too full of grass and tomato vines to dive into the treats. Plus it's hot, and somehow the drive to extend ourselves more than necessary is too much to bother with in this heavy, glaring weather. For once, it was easy to lure the goats back into their shelter, and the chickens followed suit.

The plumeria love the weather, and the hollyhocks, too. Chango likes to be in cool places, like stretched out on the kitchen floor, or where the breeze comes through the front screen. But Chango also loves company, and no matter how hot it gets, he will never miss the chance to curl up on someone's lap. He seems smaller and more frail every day, and none of us can stand to deny him any little comfort, so he has all the canned pumpkin and free laps his heart desires.

If it's silly of our cat to seek warm places to nap, it's perhaps even sillier for me to be crocheting in this climate. But there I go, row after row. I am driven by these colors and by the urge to try new stitches. I am making all of this up as I go. And even though I am determined to add new stitches, I am too lazy to look up tutorials, or finally learn how to read crochet patterns. My experiment may yield something worthwhile, but just like when I cook, I can't be sure I'll be able to replicate the recipe I have concocted. And the shawl is getting big, and warm. It won't be any use until December, maybe February. Will winter ever come? And rain. Out West, we all crave some rain. I try not to think about Fall, and rain, about cold mornings, and baking, and because I try not to think of these, I am nearly obsessed with anticipation, and frankly, that is silly as well.

The Mess draws closer and closer to recovery. In fact, we have already started using the refrigerator, again. It is on double secret probation and we hope we've repaired all leaks and damages. But there is still painting and caulking to do. Ugh. But! We have ice, and we have that marvelous honeymoon period where I only want prettiness and order inside the refrigerator. I love the feeling I get, post-crisis, when I am overcome with relief and gratitude and a seemingly boundless determination to be good, and efficient, prudently organized and not unlike a domestic goddess of order and serenity. Yes, all of that just from having a refrigerator making ice, and nearly back in the recess where it belongs. So close. I hope this is the longest running honeymoon ever.

Did you know you can prove something by contradiction? Max taught us how. Well, he taught me how. Geoff knew, and Maria caught on very quickly. I was slow to catch on, but Max is infinitely patient. This is all from his summer course, Mathematical Reasoning. Before he finishes summer school, Maria will begin her freshman year of high school, and I will start school next week! (I did it! I applied and in a day or two, I will enroll in that art class I've had my eye on. Do I need a lunch pail? New shoes? A haircut? I may be getting as excited as I am nervous...) It's funny, and contrary: I am so eager to rush into fall, into cool nights and overcast days, but then again, everything moves so quickly, and soon I may lament the days that have passed too swiftly.

Maria translated from Latin (thank you Google) the message on our board... Regard with wonder that which the smallest of creatures display. And I think we may add time. I want to be in wonder of time, of each row, and season, to be present in this day.

August, Bit by Bit - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 13:15

Here are bits of August... and only the first five days of this month. This hot month. Let's just get that stated and over with. I won't linger on the subject of heat, of humidity. I won't drone on about how some evenings even the merciful breeze has left us. It's hot here, and hotter other places, and don't know of many that are enjoying this. Thankfully, we also have shade, and breezier days, and the fans help, and (begrudgingly, but also so very thankfully) I let Geoff run the a.c. unit in our bedroom... it is a contentious point, because I have a list of grievances against a.c., and wish to singlehandedly contribute to saving the world, but also I am useless without sleep. (What is an empathic, bleeding-hearted liberal to do?)

The good bits of August also include Max's birthday, and the friends that joined us in a spontaneous celebration. Basically I tracked down a cake, and we sang, and ate cake beneath the shade of the trees lining our street.

Funny month August... it feels like the heart and start of real summer, what with the weather, and our town being full of tourists, the heady smell of sunblock and surf, and yet back-to-school is rearing it's needy head, and so there are forms to fill, supplies to replenish, orientation dates to mark. Both Max and Maria are starting new schools, so there are new hoops to jump through, new cultures, new routines to anticipate. And! Max signed up for a summer course... Mathematical Reasoning. So, August suggests a freedom, a dash across sandy shores, and catching fireflies, merriment, abandon and glee, but really it's also knocking on the door, with an urgent message... Get ready. It's business time.

I miss ice cubes that magically appear from a tall appliance that stands tucked away in our kitchen. So... where we stand with The Mess... the tiles are set, and grouted, and next comes drywall, then we can put the refrigerator back in place (It's not repaired, but if I understand correctly, I believe we are going to vigilantly monitor the situation and adjust our sails as needed.) Also, I have a dread suspicion about the state of the inside of our disabled refrigerator... we were convinced the refrigerator was a tosser, and when we emptied and moved it, then wrapped it in caution tape and warned people not to stand too near it, because it is a teetering 4 ton monolith, we left out a crucial step: We did not clean it out. I cannot bring myself to type the words I would use to describe what I suspect we are going to discover. In the pantry we still have shelves to reinstall, more painting to do, and in the hall, all of our assorted treasures and holiday dishes, vases, knick-knacks etc need to be cleaned and settled back into their spaces. By now, after seeing them lined on the floor since July, I'm less inclined to see them as treasures and more as contenders for a yard sale. We are cursed with blessings.

On Instagram I post pretty pictures; not to create a false depiction of my life, not to suggest that I have superior domestic skills, and enjoy only curated days, blithely unaware of global warming, dust bunnies, or my unbrushed hair. The pretty pictures are to help me cope, to give me hope, to keep my focus on those many blessings we enjoy. Yes, the point of view I share is skewed and highlights the shinier moments, but believe me... I am the second picture of Cairo, not the wide-eyed floof nugget of cuteness.

If you are struggling, too, if life is complicated, hot, heavy, messy, or a bit too much... I understand. I get it. Come, sit next to me. Let's talk, or let's just dangle our feet in some cool water, and exchange funny videos of pets. There's still three more weeks of August to go, and it may get hotter, messier, and we need to see each other through this. I think the pretty pictures, small breaks, really long breaks, and silly cats help.

Home Days - Fri, 08/03/2018 - 11:05
When I took this picture, I had to put down the bundle of dirty clothes I was carrying, because I needed to capture this moment... this moment when I saw a space clean, safe, pretty, holding tokens of things that I love, things that make me smile, like chamomile blossoms, art, and toys, favorite books, summer light. And I distinctly recall, and feel again, the joy of this space, this freedom, and I wished, I wish everyone could have their space, a place, or a feeling of acceptance, of comfort, a respite from worry, a beacon of light, hope, with room for art, and favorite books.

And then, of course, there are other parts of home! And rather than show you rotted floor boards, and water logged dry wall, let's just take a moment to read Cairo's expression. Oh, kitty! He's claimed the case of socket wrenches on the dining table, in the midst of our plumbing and appliance catastrophe. (Crisis. Catastrophe. Fiasco. Disaster? Disruption? The right nomenclature is so so very important.) Cairo, with his look of disapproval, will stand in for the very worst pictures of The Mess.

What we have here is a very large, 15 year old(-ish) refrigerator with a freezer door that leaks like a sieve. We are going to fix that.

And we are going to fix the broken pipe, the studs, the drywall, the flooring, the pantry, the hall cupboards, all of it. All hands on deck, and Geoff at the helm. It wasn't what we had in mind for our evenings, weekends, and summer days, but at least we have some tools and skills, and so this is just part of our home days.

Fortunately, there is more to our home days than damage control and trips to the hardware store.

And things are steadily progressing. And, just look at all of those baked beans! I could never completely despair when I have four cans of baked beans in my pantry.

I also have favorite books, and an IG friend invited me to play a game... for 7 days I post a picture of a book, without explaining or reviewing it. I was tickled to be included. And it's been interesting to consider the books I want to share. It makes me wonder about my tastes, interests, motivations, where I take my inspiration.

And there's another introspective and engaging activity I am involved in... a swap. Who remembers swaps? They were so plentiful and frequent in the olden days of blogging. I found this one, celebrating Beatrix Potter, at Bobby Pin Bandit. Now I am in it... creating inspiration and mood boards, and preparing to make something to delight a recipient in the gift exchange. I know her favorite colors, and interests, I have seen her inspiration board. Actually, I am enjoying seeing everyone's ideas, and creations. I feel immersed in a stream of whimsy and happiness.

And someone knows my favorite colors, and maybe they've seen this board I made, with help from Pinterest (featuring works and inspiration from Beatrix Potter herself, Alicia Paulson, Maggie Rudy, Cherished Vintage, Molly Brett, Jean Baptiste Monge, and others I had trouble identifying.) My tastes and interests are wildly eclectic. It's nice to think a package will come for me, in this fun swap. But I am already enjoying participating. Like with the book game, it's giving me a chance to ponder my interests, and think about the things that make me feel joyful, amused, taken in. When I spent more time with Pinterest I enjoyed collecting images, and organizing them into boards... it's like curating your own magazine, or building a massive scrapbook. I am still working out my understanding of what I enjoy about this... and trying to refute the idea in my head that it's only indulgent and superficial. Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts... no end of opinions and thoughts. Sometimes it's just nice to go with a feeling, especially a good one.

Somewhere in this house is a little figurine, Hunca Munca. Where can she be? I have this book about Beatrix Potter, which I admit I thought would be a bit more of a narrative, fanciful, romantic tome... it's actually rather academic and... what's the word? Well, it's a bit unvaried, straight to the facts and dates. I guess, when I started it I was in a mood for something more emotional, and descriptive. Good grief... this is why I don't write book reviews. I sound a bit dull, myself. It's a good, factual book, and actually a brilliant resource for getting to know a woman far more complex and significant than her mice and bunnies might suggest.

Company's coming! Grant has been teaching in Japan, and he's home, traveling on business, with students. We warned him about the upheaval and messes here, but it was no obstacle to an evening of Bird House fun.

Goats, chickens, swimming, talking story, eating tacos and salsa, roasting marshmallows, and learning about s'mores... home is a very good place when friends come by.

And now... it's a new day. Another home day. We are so fortunate. We have so much to celebrate.

Summer, So Far - Tue, 07/31/2018 - 12:07
To begin with, summer has been busy and hot, and neither of those observations is very interesting, even if they are true. I've been inclined to declare this The Summer of Plagues, but given all that we've endured thus far, it seems a bad idea to tempt fate... we may not be out of the woods, yet. A lot has challenged and vexed us, and most recently it's been the broken pipe behind the failing refrigerator. It was only a teeny hole, in a tiny pipe, but the effects have been monumental. Picture: emptied cabinets, torn drywall, pulled up flooring, a refrigerator in the middle of the dining room (awaiting its diagnosis), and the general chaos and dispiriting consequences of time, and resources going into damage control. My saving grace is my sick and twisted sense of humor, so that I won't have to wait 5 years before I can look back and laugh at all of this. Our hall, kitchen and dining room look like a disaster area, complete with yellow caution/cuidado tape. It's hilarious.

So, yes... there have been many bumps and setbacks, and trials, and moments of utter bewilderment, but it would be a shame to surrender, to succumb to the dark side. So I sketch, and let my mind wander, and I make-believe, I look for friends, I fold laundry, count chickens, feed goats, take pictures, and buy seed packets.

I am working up the courage to (finally) enroll in an art class. Our community college offers a brilliant course that I've had occasion to pop in on. The stars seem to be aligning, all the children will be occupied, and I cannot think of any more excuses not to go back to school. The lure of being in this class is the chance to learn art techniques, but more than that... it's to be with those students that meet in that class. They're so supportive and friendly. There are all levels and styles represented, all ages, but they are each encouraging, affable, communicative, and sympathetic, and it gives the group an inviting, heartening feel.

What if this is The Summer of Art and Friends? Someone sent me a message on IG, sharing one of her works in progress, which felt like such a kind gesture of trust. It was an exchange that really boosted my spirits. And then, we were invited to visit JPL... NASA!! (Read that with a giddy squeal) And besides being utterly blown away with profound awe and respect for our country's achievements in science, technology, engineering, art, and math, I was emotionally overcome by the generosity and thoughtfulness of our friends, and their friends, and the kindnesses that come into our lives. I have a lot to reflect on here... and some of it is to remind myself to make the effort to be available, to offer more to the people I love, to the friends I admire, and appreciate, and need. It's a constant effort, and takes adjustments, I suppose, to balance our obligations and regular life challenges, with being a good friend, with reaching out, sending a note, making a call, showing up. I have been remiss, I think.

I've held back. I've tried, too hard, to hold up a lot of ideals, and responsibilities, and personal challenges. I've been too overwhelmed to be open, to come forward, and I have even forgotten how... how to be vulnerable, how to be seen. I've let my insecurities and sensitive inclinations close me off, and silence my story. It's not been a very healthy path to take. Part of me repeats this narrative about the people that have admonished me for saying too much, but that's dumb, too... those people aren't my friends, really, and I need to stop surrendering my time and thoughts and actions to their agendas and judgement. I want to take responsibility for what I think and believe, instead of trying to point my finger, or resign myself to living with excuses. Of course, it's not always easy to feel overcome by life and stress, and to dare myself to do more, be better. I have a lot to reflect on here. And some thank-you cards to write, and send.

Hello, Fred.

Yes, I think this can be The Summer of Art and Friends, or the The Summer of Begin, Again.

Hello, Maria, Yanina, Janice, B, Anne, Vera, Karen, Jola... and me.

Yanina, the evenings in your home always seem to be the ones that inspire my spirit. What a gifted host, and warm friend you are. And what a beautiful home you keep.

On the calendar... the appliance repairman will come give our refrigerator his prognosis. I don't even know what I am hoping for! A new refrigerator? An easy repair? Both have some appeal. And on the same day, we are getting our septic tank pumped! Oh boi... I really know how to make a day great. Lol.


The Summer of Art and Friends, The Summer of Begin, Again.

And daring myself to do more, be better.

Even when I feel like this...

I want to try and show up, face the world, and see the gifts, the possibilities, shoot for the stars, be a friend.

For the record... - Thu, 07/05/2018 - 09:59
My children decided to make secret guesses of how many pictures I would take while we were in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Each of them wrote down their number, and I carried on in my usual manner, taking a picture of anything I saw beautiful, interesting, note-worthy, funny, or strange. They had one clue or intimation and that was... in eleven days traveling to and from Oregon, I took 2,300 pictures. So, how many pictures did I take on a twelve day visit to the Midwest? Oh, and I wanted to travel light so this was only with my iPhone. Do you want to guess?

The pictures are still uploading to my computer. And to be honest, I am already regretting the shots I didn't get, the moments I didn't capture. And though packing light was a good idea, I am not sure how good a job I actually did. I probably should have brought the Sony camera, and left my paints and brushes. I never embroidered. But I did crochet. Never wore socks, and I could have got by without the dress. One pair of shoes was fine. Funny... I am tired, and still buzzing from this trip, but am I thinking of the next one? How to do it better? What not to do, etc? Maybe. No harm in daydreaming a little. Can't hurt to be prepared, am I right?

Still loading...

Not all of the pictures are keepers, of course. On the plane home, I went through my phone and pulled out the obvious duds. There are duplicates, but I like to see those on my big monitor, before deciding which ones to delete. Some pictures are notes... a memory device for names, numbers, addresses, ideas. It really bugs me (read: Crushes my soul) when I take a beautiful picture, but don't notice that someone blinked... take two, that's my rule, but I forget.

I love seeing the pictures as they load onto my Mac, and then finding that 1 in a 1,000 that stands out, the one that really touches me, makes me glad I take pictures. It's not always the best picture, but it tells a good story, makes me connect to the moment. I love it when that happens.

Still loading. I am seeing our afternoon at the Milwaukee Public Museum appear on the screen, a moment at a time. All the butterflies, then dioramas, then pictures from the car window as we drove through old Milwaukee looking for Café Hollander.

Sector 67 pictures... still loading. This is going to take a while.

I should unpack, start the first load of travel laundry, sort the mail, send thank you cards, start a diet, pull weeds, clean my car.

No... ah, gee. The vacation is over. The adventure is done. It's back to "normal" and trying to keep the dust buffalo from herding, stampeding. I should probably should get a real job, a paying one, clean my desk, do sit-ups, eat kale. When traveling, I keep it all together. I can manage... my world in a suitcase is small enough to figure out, maintain. I love that about traveling. Now we are home, and... let's just say, I should pack light in my daily, "real" life, too.

Is that why it's so easy for me to fall in love with the places I go? Is it because I am traveling light, and have room to see the beauty? There's something to that, I am sure. Of course places seem wonderful and the grass is greener, when I am on vacation, traveling. But, it's more than that. I mean, for one thing, the grass really is greener in Wisconsin, so are the trees, and the fields. Verdant, lush. And there is water, and moss, and even though those will be gone come fall, then winter, it's the tenuousness that adds to the appeal, that gives the sense of awe, appreciation, and urgency to enjoying it all. To combat the siren's call of big homes, screened porches, tree lined sidewalks, with corner cafes, and lakes, canoes, fireflies, and all of the Midwest's charms, I (m)uttered the following... Chiggers, mosquitos, and ticks, over and over, again. Geoff added, Twenty below, to be sure. And still, in spite of bug bites, and the threat of sub-zero days, I fall in love, all over again, with Main Street and Willy Street, barns, and cornfields, all that green, and the hope for snow.

Now the Door County pictures are loading, and I could cry. I wish we were there, but with our cats, and goats, the chickens, and any of my friends that want to canoe on a lake, pick strawberries and raspberries, then play Scrabble on the porch as the fireflies come out.

Chiggers, mosquitos, and ticks. Twenty below, oh my. Keep saying it.

Alex, Bambi, and Maria went out with Georgia to pick strawberries, and they came home with 16 pounds. They washed and hulled them, and that was our breakfast, with whipped cream and biscuits.

Chiggers, mosquitos, and ticks. Twenty below, oh my. Keep saying it.

I really should start that laundry.

Remember to guess... just for fun. How many pictures do you think I took?

Long Miles - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 10:20
June 5, early in the evening we pull up to Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco.

There comes a point in almost any trip I organize, when I would like a chance to do it over. Some parts of a trip sort of inevitably disappoint, because it's through a dull spot, or includes lots of transitions and layovers. But I flatter myself a good travel agent, with the skills and experience and nature to know how to prepare, be flexible, and see the bright side. But. Yeah... this last part, our drive into San Francisco, and the frankly crud Airbnb stay, then the long haul home, was brutal, with some levity, grace, and beauty sprinkled in. I know, somewhere in Orange County, I swore Never Again! And I meant it, but a couple of months have passed, and I would like the chance to do it over. Maybe.

1. More Time in In the Woods.
I love Oregon, and Northern California, those redwoods, fern canyons, rivers, the relaxed drivers, and wildflowers. One night camping is never enough, and hardly worth the hassle of getting setup and settled in... which was exacerbated by how minimally we were prepared. Need: Sleep pads, matches, more pillows.

At least it was safe, and clean.

2. Always Read The Fine Print.
That Airbnb, in SF, was kind of awful, and it was my fault, at least in part. I never noticed that the check-in was 7pm, and despite my asking if we could please at least drop off luggage, the host was firm: No. Very firm, and very lecture-y, and very alarmist about city crime, car thefts, and break-ins, robberies, and tigers and bears, oh-my! Send me a nickel and I will share the rest, including how the host demonstrated the proper way to sleep between sheets, explained the difference between shampoo and conditioners, counted towels, and described in degrees how to turn a door knob. There is no hyperbole or even a smidge of exaggeration in what I've shared, and it's only a fraction of what we endured, before we checked-out escaped at 5 a.m.

3. San Francisco Deserves Its Own Visit.
I'll never have a one night stand with that city, again. It's great there, and I love it, but thinking we could drive in, from camping, walk and sightsee, before driving home the next morning, was naive, and I regret it. We love the Musée Mécanique, and I am so glad we finally got a chance to visit, but the whirlwind exhaustion of transitioning into city traffic, the aforementioned alarmist text messages from our "host," and simply running out of time, were brutal. We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at our campsite, for breakfast and the whole drive south I imagined we would finish our day with a delicious SF dinner... nope. The Airbnb check-in was late and narrow and by the time he finished his required introduction we were 30 minutes from "quiet time," and too defeated to dare leave the room in search of a bite to eat.

4. Maybe Take The Train.
Like San Francisco, Los Angeles is not to be trifled with. It's wild there, but worthwhile if you give it space, and time. I would have liked to come home from our visit to Oregon, with the easy and relaxed feel of Oregon still in my psyche, and nervous system. Unfortunately, drivers in California have become kind of awful. It's one thing to drive very fast, but enough with the tail-gating, and roaring past... a lane change does not have to be a hostile take-over. Chill the f*ck out. From Willits, all the way home, I would have known we were driving in California, even if I were a blind-folded passenger... the tension and urgency is tangible. Of course, I am back in the groove, again, and know how to manage the interstates and highways of my favorite state, but I sure do miss Portland drivers, and Oregon traffic. My impulse and inclination is to somehow ditch the car, when returning to the Southland, just chill the f*ck out, and ride in on a train.

It wasn't all bad, not at all. Those peanut butter breakfast sandwiches in the redwoods were the last thing we ate before we finally had another meal, the next day, in San Luis Obispo, at about 11:30. We felt like the Madonna Inn was more glorious and fun than ever before in our famished states! And! Maria was finally able to try on boots. You see, at the Gaslight Gathering, back in April Maria won boots from Oak Tree Farms. At a shop in Malibu, Maria was able to take the different styles for a test stroll before picking her pair, and size. They sent her those gorgeous purple ones, a bit sized up, so hopefully she can wear them for many years to come.

Oh, that was a lot of miles. From home to Oregon, and back again. For a bit, I thought I could never do it again, but now, I see I could try once more, and do it better.

The Way Back Home - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 09:08
Leaving Oregon... June 4, 2018

It's no small feat getting to my Mom and Dad's place. It's a bit off the beaten path, a long way north of Southern California, up in Oregon, tucked away in the woods, a stone's throw from a harbor and lighthouse. As hard as it might be getting there, it is even harder to leave. I have to brace myself... be steady for the sad parting, for thinking of how much I will miss the time together, and the emotional wrench of wishing we were not so far apart. It would be so ideal if it were only a few hours distance, instead of twenty, if we could see each other monthly, or whenever the mood struck, these are always my crestfallen, heart heavy thoughts as I back out of their driveway and leave for home.

The drive home is a strange mix of wonderful and kind of awful. There's some torture involved, at first sweet, then painfully dull and draining. It's because the highway begins scenically, through coastal towns, and in good weather, with stunning views from forested bluffs of the beautiful Pacific, but the closer we get to home the more natural beauty disappears. At first, around every turn in the road is a new attraction, vista point, inviting trail, and natural wonder. It's a twenty hour drive, but I would love to make it in twenty days, so I could visit every riverbank, float on the South Fork of the Eel River, camp more nights, explore more trails, meet more trees. Here are some moments from southern Oregon, on the coast, through the Humboldt Redwoods and the Redwood Creek and the South Fork of the Eel River, and The Lady Bird Johnson Redwood Grove. Our first two days were full of stunning beauty.

A Labyrinth in the Woods - Wed, 06/27/2018 - 11:32

June 2, 2018
Bandon Dunes Resort, and Labyrinth, Bullards State Beach, Bandon, and South Slough Research Reserve~

Yellow roses will forever be Eunice's... her spirit, her beauty, her radiance and resilience, her kind soul, and gentle being, her strength.

Everyday of this trip, everyday since I parted with her, I think of her, I look for her, I wait to understand, to feel at peace with... with all of it. I think in Oregon, most of all, I was expecting to find something to settle my grief, to resolve the feeling of disbelief. No platitudes, nor axioms, no thoughts of a peaceful passing, long life, better place are true enough, can give me solace. It's not that I cannot see good, or cannot smile... it's not that I don't understand about life and death, about time and cycles. It's simply that I cannot be agreeable and accept what nature and physics and the infinite unknown have dealt us. I long for a way to drop the walls and veils, to see the point and direction, to know some comfort, to be assured that our path is not so inevitably futile.

The world is so beautiful, so painfully beautiful. When we have had enough of pain and beauty... I hope there will be understanding.
August 7, 2018

We Went on a Drive - Tue, 06/26/2018 - 11:04

Max, William, Maria, Alex, Deliam Ron, Natalie~

June 2, 2018
Langolis, to Bandon, and the Coquille Lighthouse, and Bullards State Beach... Oregon~

Beautiful Oregon - Mon, 06/25/2018 - 07:00
June 1~

Driving in Oregon, even in the city, is a pleasure. Oregon drivers are patient and considerate. Oregon scenery and highways are beautiful. I just thought I'd mention this, because even though we had a "long" drive to my folks' place, it was a breeze. We stopped, too, to see my aunt and her new husband, my cousin. We visited the Carousel... which we have been watching progress for a few years. We paid a visit to Trader Joe's for my mom, and we went over rivers and through woods, and arrived at our next stop practically invigorated. And then... we slept, cozily, before waking up to a gorgeous day on the Oregon coast.

Visiting the Marine Life Center, in Charleston, Oregon...

Another happy visit to Sunset Bay State Park.

Lots to enjoy in Cape Arago State Park...

We didn't drive far but we saw a lot. It was the nicest kind of day... without stress, or a tight schedule. We followed our impulses, taking in the sights. It was the kind of time one looks forward to sharing with loved ones, and I am so glad we were there to enjoy Ron and Delia's company.

A Mini Portland Tour - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 10:00
We've had three full days in Portland to see sights and take it all in, but before we head out of town, we put in a small order for just two more stops. And while it wasn't an intentional theme, I think our mini tour, though short on time, filled a tall order for fun!

In our own, limited, survey of Portland donuts... we vote Pips Original as our #1. They have a spirit for community like no one else, and that's what makes them inspiring to follow on Instagram. Nate Snell sells mini-donuts, coffee, and chai... but he delivers a warm and compassionate attitude about people, fellowship, and engagement. Fresh and original donuts make a tasty treat, and a perspective that promotes cooperation, kindness, and activism is a recipe for success we can get behind.

After those warm and yummy strawberry-rhubarb mini-donuts... how about some mini figures and bricks? We couldn't leave town without stopping to see 3,000 square feet of LEGO bricks and mini-figs, at Bricks & Minifigs.

Overall, I'd say we finished our Portland visit quite nicely. We never ran afoul of anything, and we stayed focused. It was a snap putting together this mini-me, but I'll be a good egg and lay off the puns...

Portland After The Falls... - Wed, 06/20/2018 - 11:29
Do you know about the Horse rings and the Portland Horse Project? We noticed these old rings in the curb when we were in Alberta Arts neighborhood. Alex did a search about them and learned that the few horse rings that are still around sometimes have little horses tethered to them. Naturally, we were hoping to discover one, and the next day we spied a piebald mare. Should I give coordinates for this find? Or is it better to leave a little mystery? I felt like we had stumbled upon treasure! The little ratty-rat I adopted from The Fernie Brae, mug of chai in hand, stood with the horse for a touristy snapshot.

On our last full day in the Portland area we were determined to squeeze in more, so we visited the Columbia River Gorge, and the Bonneville Dam, and it was wonderful. The next half of the day was dedicated to visiting a few places that we didn't want to miss out on. We already have a list of places we are sorry we missed. It's not an easy assignment... See as Much of Portland as You Can, Because It All Looks Awesome. We did our best.

It just happened that the very neighborhood we were staying in is full of interesting attractions, and so we set out on foot, and Max led us directly to QuarterWorld Arcade! This was definitely a striking contrast with our morning in the ferns and waterfalls. In it's own way, it was happily mind-blowing! We found ourselves in an old-school arcade, a place that was once a theater, but is now packed with pinball machines and new and old arcade games. And air hockey. Air Hockey. There also happens to be a bar, a musical Tesla Coil, and it's totally family friendly. All we needed were quarters, and Max, again led the way... the arcade visit and game play was Max's treat.

Air hockey makes me laugh so hard, it's like a work out... my abs were sore!

We walked out still laughing, and wishing real hard that we could have a neighborhood arcade. Portland, you're so lucky. And cool.

Por Que No? We were thirsty, and for once, there was no line, so we seized our opportunity to see what all the fuss was about at this local taqueria.

This was no pre-mix, watery, over sweetened horchata concoction. No. This was thick. It was almost like some champurrado spilled into the horchata. I should have asked. I wish I'd asked. It was not like any horchata I've ever had, and it may be reason enough to go back to Portland, and why not?

Que bueno.

And more walking... and more roses, and cats, and gardens, and hints of the character and charm, that makes me think why not? for just about any whimsical whim. I really miss seeing children sitting on curbs, reading books, people on their porches smiling warmly, as the day turns to dusk, and soft lights glow from inside homes. I miss neighborhoods mixed in with shops, cafes, community spirit.

The last order of business for the day... finish the pizza box art for American Dream Pizza. Alex and Maria left ADP with blank boxes, so they could add to the gallery of pizza box art and they'd been steadily working on their boxes, but now we were pushing the deadline. We wanted to hand in their boxes before closing, and we just made it...

Here is Alex's, in progress. A lively and magical art gallery.

Maria chose to illustrate her original characters on her pizza box.

Mission accomplished, and a happy end of our last full day in Portland.

To The Falls - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 03:00

Okay. So. It's basically our last full day in Portland, and we are really eager to see more, and do more, and this motivates us to get up and out the door, almost early. Our first stop... Fleur de Lis, where can have coffee, tea, someone got a croissant. We enjoyed the brisk morning air, the friendly dogs, and the prospect of driving up the Columbia River Gorge. I like Fleur de Lis, and I like that Max pointed out to me that I seem attracted to French places in Portland. I am ok with this. I am 100% certain that the city of Portland has about 142 amazing places just for coffee, or tea, and another 1,000 for breakfast, and so on. Finding good eats and great ambiance in this City is not the issue... the difficulty is deciding on which amazing place to go.

Now, about the rest of this post. It is an apologetic, merciless photo album. I am not forcing anyone to sit through my slide show. I promise I won't ask you to tell me your favorite picture. It's possible you will question the necessity of posting two nearly identical photos, side by side, even. The thing is... I want to. I took the pictures thinking, God, I love this place, and it was a prayerful and solemn declaration. At moments I felt tearful and overcome with the beauty and tranquility. I was in awe of the the story of Sacagawea, carrying her son, exploring with Lewis and Clark, coming through this wilderness. And I knew, that in a matter of days all of it would be inaccessible, again, maybe forever. No more fern groves, no more waterfalls over basalt columns, no more quiet paths around tree lined creek beds, soft mounds of green moss. Mosses growing on mosses, growing on gnarled and noble branches. I can't take any of these things I love home with me, except in pictures, and words. Most times I share about a quarter of the pictures I take; this time I am posting at least half, because I want to see it, all of it, again, and again. I won't say much about the pictures. You should go. I hope you can go. The Columbia River Gorge is beautiful.

Vista House.

Latourell Falls.

Bridal Veil Falls

Eagle Creek Fire Response, United States Forest Service.

Multnomah Falls.

The fish ladder at Bonneville Dam.

Take Us To The Columbia River Gorge, posted August 23, 2016. Maria and I will always feel fortunate to have seen these places before the Eagle Creek Fire. We feel sad for the damages and losses, for the closed access, and missed opportunities to enjoy these natural spaces. We so wish fire prevention and good stewardship of our planet would to be a priority and concern for everyone. We stand to lose so much if we don't act with care.