Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas in Yosemite

Yosemite Valley at Christmas

The Artist and I made a last minute decision to spend Christmas at Yosemite. A week before Christmas, we checked our favorite Victorian hotel, The Wawona, and rooms were available. We travel all over for his business, but rarely take a vacation, and never on the spur-of-the-moment. The Artist was hoping for his first white Christmas and Santa delivered.

It snowed on our way into the park, then let up and rained, wiping out most of the snow on the ground. But Christmas day, large, white flakes fell to earth all day long, closing roads, felling trees and keeping me by the fire knitting all day. The Artist thrilled at the snow, and I thrilled at the luxury of sitting and knitting.
Christmas storm - fun in the snow

Next day was Boxing Day. We took off for a hike in the snow. We had hiked the Meadow loop trail many times, both on foot and on our bikes, but never before in the snow. We were the first ones on the trail after breakfast. Six inches of snow came just about to the top of our hiking boots, our feet protected somewhat by jeans and yesterday's snow-covered prints. But with powder, not much of it stuck, or even got through our heavy socks into our boots. My biggest worry was the streams, including one we have to ford even in the summer. The Meadow Loop, on the edge of the forest, was incredible.

Looking out toward the meadow

Blazing a trail through the snow

The Artist on the trail

Next day, we left Wawona and traveled down to Yosemite Valley. From a winter wonderland, we gradually returned to civilization.

The Merced River from the stone bridge

Yosemite Falls

Near Bridal Veil Falls

But, it was time to leave. We'll never have a Christmas as beautiful and thrilling as our Christmas at Yosemite. You just can't expect to duplicate a wonderful time like this.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Cactus

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

... not enough time... for a long greeting. Life with an Artist just keeps on going.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

In the Cold of the Night

Art Card - Winter Night

The house was 61 degrees when I got out of bed at 6:30 this morning. Granted, we turn off the heat at night, but that's the coldest I can ever remember it.

LUCK of the DRAW

The Auctioneer and the "Beautiful Lady"

Last weekend was Luck of the Draw, the annual fund raiser for our local Art League, commonly referred to as LOD. It's lots of fun. Purchase a ticket for $65 and when your number is called, take your choice of any artwork left on the walls. Of course, in a perfect world, you want your number chosen first, and your donated artwork chosen second. That way, you are deemed both lucky and in demand.

The Auctioneer

Last year, my ticket was chosen second and I chose a gorgeous piece of glass. This year, The Artist's ticket was chosen about eighth, but his piece was chosen fourth. His work is always chosen among the top ten. People know when they get a good deal. The person who chose his mini-psaltery is a nine-year-old whose parents run the theatre. Her parents buy a ticket just for her and she comes every year to select her piece. This year, she really lucked out. However, in true LOD fashion, one year, her number was chosen almost last.

Contemplating Art Choices and Anxiously Awaiting the First Number

So what did The Artist and I receive at LOD? He chose a lovely pastel by one of the teachers, I chose an art quilt and a painting. We are both very happy. The secret to getting a number called early is to buy more than one ticket.

I asked the woman who chose my piece (somewhere in the middle of the 100 pieces) why she chose that one. "Because my husband and I decided on it." was her reply. No insight into the appeal of my fiber art piece from this admirer. Oh, well.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


It took me three years to make Freddie. I finally developed the patience and time to sew all the pieces in place. He's been around about three or four years now. Maybe it's time for him to have a little brother with some of the new fabric I've dyed.

This year is the first Thanksgiving that I haven't had to make the dinner, Mother of Artist having passed away almost three months ago. My friends from Phoenix paid us a visit and this year we went out for dinner to a lovely local restaurant I hadn't visited in 20 years. It was very expensive, but it was their vacation and a little of ours as well, since I didn't have to cook. It was probably the best meal we've had since The Artist and I stayed at Valruges in the south of France in 1999.

My toe is much better, but still quite sore. Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Toes

You never know how badly something can hurt until you do an action you never intended to do and injure an odd part of your body in a place usually not touched.

While wandering around the house in my bare feet (as usual) in the complete light of day, I mashed my pinkie toe on the leg of a chair. My toe is very, very sore. Do you have any idea just how much you use that toe for balance? Well, neither did I...well, maybe I did.

Can you notice that the toe next to my pinkie is a little crooked? Aren't you the least bit curious why? The reason is that many moons ago I loved to play sports. I was one of those who loved gym class, even when it was first period. One time while trying to spike a volleyball over a net, I came down on that toe. (This would really be very funny if you knew just how tall I am. Remember, in our salad days, we think anything is possible.)

When I came down on that toe, it couldn't support me. ("No kidding," you say.) Since it couldn't support me, I fell down screaming. I yanked off my white sneakers and gym socks and saw my fourth toe standing straight up in the air at a right angle to the rest of my toes. I was in pain. I had dislocated my toe. I remember that the doctor pushed it back in place and set it with a tongue depressor. I walked around with a stiff knee for a few days because I was afraid that bending it would damage my toe.

I recovered. I played more volleyball. And basketball (I won the foulshooting championship more than once) and softball (second base). But I never tried to spike again. And my toe ended up crooked.

I think I'll go ice my pinkie again. Tomorrow I have to wear business shoes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Oh, I've been so bad!

Well, I just got busy and haven't been writing.

Open Studios came first. The Artist actually did very well. We moved the gallery indoors this year and people could really hear the instruments. One of my long-time favorites, The Songcatcher was sold. I used to sit here at the computer and catch glances up at his calm, reverent, face. But, no longer. I do miss him.

Then, we had a yard sale of many of Mother of the Artist's belongings. Silverwear, kitchen stuff, old towels. You know what I mean. Even her old dresser. We did OK and buyers did OK. We didn't sell her TV, but I refused to take it to Goodwill. Then, a couple weeks later, one of our yardsale visitors called us up to see if we still had it. It was a great deal for us both! "Three-year-old 32 inch Sony Trinitron used by an old lady to watch The Price is Right and Giants baseball."

Next, I finally got the closet in my guest room/studio. What prompted the wonderful completion by The Artist was that I got some free very nice cabinets at work. They sat in the garage during Open Studios. Then, it rained. Well it's OK to rain once or even twice, but I wanted my car to be in the garage over winter. After all, it's almost 20 years old. So, The Artist installed them and really made the room look finished. He's so talented.

And then, I finished my book...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

It's time for (CCSCC) Open Studios

The Artist at Work

This is the most exciting, exhausting and extravagant time of year for all artists in our small county. It's Open Studios time! The Artist is just one of many very good artists in our county who has been selected to participate in opening his studio to the public. In order to receive this opportunity to make a little cash (without the county requiring them to take out a special license), 300 artists were selected by application, after applying to the Cultural Council last April. It really is a very good deal for both the artists and the public.

The event is separated into the North County and South County weekends, with the third weekend designated as "encore" weekend where all studios are open. The Artist and I use the South County weekend to go on a sightseeing tour around the county and visit the most remote studios. I save up my money all year to spend at this event.

Today, The Artist and I visited (in this order) an oil painter, a glassblowing couple, the Artmaps creator, a double-sided ceramic bowl maker, a raku ceramicist, a lamp glass maker, a potter of garden pots, and a plein air oil painter. We had a great time, but we are exhausted. I am monetarily poorer for the experience, but richer in knowledge and spirit. I had always wanted to visit the glassblowers, especially because I received a piece of theirs at an auction last year.

This week will be a challenge getting ready for the North County. Clean the house, prune the garden, make everything look presentable. Most of this unfortunately falls on The Artist because I'm off to bed.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fruits of the Garden

My minimalist garden is really bearing fruit. For the first time ever, I have not planted too much. I have so little that I still have to go to the Farmers' Market. However, what I have is good. I have two barely producing tomato plants, Early Girl, and I think, Sun something. I also have a very nice crop of beans.

I just love fresh green beans and this year I planted the beans from seeds I saved from last year or so. I had no idea what they were. One hill popped right up and started climbing up the redwood poles that The Artist put out for them. The others had a much more difficult time of it, but two finally took off. I didn't realize it until tonight, but the two others in the second hill were really bush beans, not pole beans. However, the pole beans turned out to be Kentucky Wonder, yum, yum!

The first, fast-growing hill of pole beans had me puzzled. I had never had those beans before. Wide, bumpy, long beans from white flowers. I remembered that I had once had some scarlet runner bean seeds, so I looked them up in the Sunset Gardening Book (the bible of Western gardening) and sure enough. Scarlet runner beans can have either red or white flowers.

The scarlet runner are really good beans, but I can understand why they aren't grown commercially. The pods are all different sizes, and it makes cooking them difficult. But they are really good. Very meaty with big seeds. Sunset says they can be substituted for lima beans when they get big. But raw or steamed, they are great!

In my photo, the scarlet runner are in front and on the right. The Kentucky Wonder are on the left.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Open Studios Reception

Life With an Artist means attending all The Artist's shows and functions. Today was a big one, the annual Open Studios Preview Reception. Here's The Artist with his piece, the Lutrell Harp. He took his own stand this year so that the piece would be close to being at the correct height. The life of this Artist is that pieces are not always hung in galleries at the correct height to see the details. This year, after arguing with sponsors for too many years on whether his preview piece could be longer than 36" (which many of them are) and then having it either hung in a strange place, like at the end of a wall or at a height that only a 6' tall person could see it, The Artist decided to enter a floor piece. It worked! (The Artist is actually sitting down here.)

The Artist is getting a white stripe in his hair. It adds to his artiness.

It's always great to see so many people we know in one place and it's always a high spot of the year socially for us, even if it was a little chilly today. The fog was in. The gallery only holds about half the people who attend, so the food tent is outside. Many of the people from the hills didn't make it in. Why should they, if it's 80 there and 50 in town?

An artitious time was had by all.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Tribute and a Huge Change in our Lives

Mother of the Artist did not make it. She passed away Thursday evening, September 4 in the Emergency Department of the hospital where I work.

She was such a neat lady. 91 years old. Raised two fine artist sons. Brought up by her grandparents in lumber camps in Eastern Oregon, she spent one winter living in a converted boxcar. I always thought that was so cool, and even did a painting of what was left of the sawmill when we visited what was left of the town several years ago. (No boxcars then and very little track.) I think she was rather embarrased about it. She once described to me how there was a living room and a bedroom and a kitchen with a bathtub all laid out in the boxcar.

The Artist will no longer begin his week with the "Mom runs" to get her groceries on Mondays.

The Artist and I had her record into the computer some answers to questions last Christmas. That just amazed her. ("How does that work?" "It's magic, mom.") We would sit her down with one of us and get her to tell us what message she wanted to send someone. Then we'd email it. It's hard to imagine that someone could not really fathom how computers work in the least nor even give a whit, but she didn't. Even solitaire with a mouse was a little too much to handle. Give her playing cards and a bridge hand any day.

So here's to Mom. Chocolate-lover, Price is Right fan, San Francisco Giants devotee, insatiable romance novel reader ("but not those historicals"), indefatiguable bridge player and independent woman, mother and homemaker. Always a big smile and never a bad word about anyone. Proud that she never used a walker!

We will miss you so much and will love you forever.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Long and Difficult Month

Life's a beach, and sometimes it's not.

It's been a difficult three weeks for The Artist and me. His mom was ill, recovered and became ill again with a different problem. She's getting better, but at 91, it takes a long time. She's so used to being independent and wants to return home, but must spend some time in a rehab center to build up her strength.

Making sure she's taken care of, visiting her and cheering her on to keep her spirits up and make her eat has taken a lot out of us. As my very good friend (who has two aging parents) says, there's a lot of mental stress. "Who will take care of me when I'm their age, since I have no children?"

Fortunately, she has a strong will to live. We long for her to return to her apartment and life to return to the way it was before she became ill. Secretly, we know that it will probably not happen exactly like that.

Work has been very hard and very difficult. Projects are due sooner, new projects appear from the ether to be fit in to normal workflow and more is expected with less staff. I try to tell myself that it is not age, just work, but my self-image suffers. I expect it to get harder and more difficult.

The show circuit has stunk this summer. The Artist has not done well, but neither have many other craft artists. Sometimes it's like that. The Economy.

So, what cheers us up? When the sun's out. Good food (but not too much of it). Reading. Working in the shop. Talking with friends.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

What a Challenging Week It's Been, and Continues to Be

Challenge. It breeds character, maturity, strength, all that stuff. And I should be a better person as a result of the challenges this week.

The first week of the month is always a trial, or should I say trial balance, because my "real" job is closing the books of a large hospital, so I'm wrapped up in the "close" (pronounced with a "z" sound, like "cloze", or "clothes"). My life revolves around all my responsibilities in the close. This is the first month of the new fiscal year and we had a new subsidiary charging system come on-line. There were a few problems, but nothing I couldn't overcome. It was just annoying that I kept finding them. I like things to go smoothly. Having to fix them takes my mind away from its smooth-running, orderly monthly checkoff list duties. (Just don't look at the snow of paper on my desk.)

So, it started last Friday, and I was already behind. I kept finding things and fixing them.

Great weekend. I cooked a lot and weather was great.

Monday, I received a call from the Emergency Room. It was The Artist. He still had all his fingers, but he had taken Mother of Artist to the doctor for her normal visit and the doc wanted her to be admitted. Off to the ER. Nothing too life-threatening for a hardy 91-year-old, but she did require a few days' stay. Monday, I spent lots of time in the ER. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thurday, I spent all my breaks, and probably more, visiting her and Friday AM some time on discharge planning.

I work for a hospital, but am usually so far removed from the main business of care-taking, that it is sort of on-the-job training when I really have real, personal business being on a patient floor. It's very interesting and completes the full circle of issues in working for a hospital: the staffing issues, the computer on wheels, the time clocks, the dispensing machines, the needle collection boxes, real medical equipment, not just a tag number in a computer system.

It was difficult getting all my real work done. In July, new spreadsheets with new budgets and new prior years have to be set up, so that takes even more time than usual. The year in some computer systems has to be rolled forward. New process. Finally got the last one resolved at 4:00 yesterday. How I got everything accomplished that I did, I will never know.

Challenge. Character-building.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Great August Weekend - Blueberry Scones

Nothing special. Just a great, relaxing weekend in August.

Up at 9:30. (If only I could do this every day!) I made fresh blueberry scones for breakfast, used self-rising flour and they were incredible. (I love scones. Sweet or savory, they are a wonderful, hearty breakfast.)

Here's the recipie from Saveur (cut down for 10 large scones and liberties taken in preparation):

3 1/3 c self-rising flour (I store mine in the freezer)
1/4 c sugar
2 sticks cold butter
1 egg
1/2 c milk
1 c blueberries (plus or minus)

Preheat oven at 400.
Whisk flour and sugar
Grate butter (sounds strange, but I picked this up from a hint in Fine Cooking)
Work with your hands until texture is like cornmeal.

Whisk egg and milk together
Add 1/2 c milk to flour/butter mixture (reserve rest of milk)
Mix with hands until dough is soft, not tacky
Mix in blueberries very gently with hands

Transfer to a lightly floured surface
Pat dough into large circle, 1" thick
Brush with milk mixture and sprinkle a little sugar on
Cut in wedges with a long knife into about 10 wedges

Using long spatula, place on baking sheet (I use my fish spatula)
Bake for 20-25 minutes

Transfer to a wire rack
Best when eaten warm

So, The Artist and I ate four smallish ones for breakfast, I put four in the freezer, and two in the fridge. Reheat in toaster oven.

I have a whole bunch more huge blueberries from the Farmers' Market. What will I do with those? Will The Artist make blueberry pancakes? Will I make blueberry crisp? Tune in later in the week.

Monday, July 28, 2008

It's Showtime!

These little guys have been in Bellevue, Washington with us over the weekend for the Bellevue Arts Fair. The Artist started driving up last Tuesday and I flew up after work to meet him Friday night. These little guys are on the tuning pegs on a rote, a type of lyre. The Artist is on his way back, coming down the Oregon Coast, enjoying a well-deserved vacation, I hope. (But I do miss him.)

It was a good show, but it's a tough 3-days, from 9:30 AM to 9:30 PM. Lots of dogs, large and small, which I'm just not used to, and lots of kids. Some kids were extremely well-behaved and smart, a few were rude and undisciplined. I though I did quite well with the dogs. I usually run away, but I actually tolerated them.

Bellevue is a lovely place, and I wish I could have enjoyed it longer. I love to do excellent craft shows with my husband, despite all the work. I get so excited by all the work and love discussing the craft business with all the artists and artist assistants.

But I'm tired. Goodnight.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Plums are In!

It's a bumper crop for plums this year! Everyone has them! Share, share share! These, in the alley, are green gage or some variation thereof, we think. Lots of Santa Rosa, usually rather spare and unpredictable. Someone brought in shiro Japanese plums at work. Both the green-leaved and red-leaved tiny, tart "alley" plums have been plentiful. Even 3" nectarines (grown from a pit?) are juicy and ripe, again in the alley. That's my orchard, I guess. I've never seen so much fruit there. I'm trying to decide which tree I'll plant in my orchard. Maybe an avocado? No one has any of those, but we may be too close to the ocean.

There may be a housing problem in the rest of the country, but in our two block deep by six or seven block long neighborhood bordering the ocean, the hammering never stops. The gorgeous craftsman style home across the street from us is almost finished (we have the best view) and today the house on the other corner next to it bit the dust. That one is expected to be Mediterranean style. Whereas the craftsman is green, green, green, modeled on Green and Green, and uses salvaged materials all the way, the new one is a straight tear down and rip out.

A port-a-potty was delivered Friday. A giant flat bed trailer arrived this weekend and dropped off a bulldozer. We knew the end was near. I stopped by this morning on my way back from my walk, pulled up and took home some dormant bulbs which have lovely spring flowers I have enjoyed. The Artist went to see his mom and get her groceries this morning and when he returned, the house was gone! All piled in a big heap in the middle of the lot. I counted eight houses being worked on in sight of the walk along the cliff. Now mind you, I'm not nostolgic about this house, since all sorts of yuckos have lived there, so I understand, but two new houses in our vision while the rest of the country seems to be falling apart is a little much.

Even the "house on the point" is being ripped apart. It's been a vacant eyesore for seven or eight years and was involved in lawsuits regarding structure problems. Since it's within 200 feet of the ocean, it's subject to Coastal Commission rules, delaying new plans. Now it's being torn down! Hoorah!

P.S. We have had lucious strawberries from our self-seeded plants. The neighbor's figs are here, and so are the birds, sigh, but I've managed to snag a few.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Life in the Fiber Lane

Fiber art, fiber art. The past weeked I dyed. I really love dying, but it can be so messy and involved. The Artist agreed to let me have my half of the garage for a day to use for the weekend, minus my tiny auto. (He tends to take over the garage and make a lot of sawdust.)

Avoiding the phrase “I don’t have time...”, will soon help you to realize that you do have the time needed for just about anything you choose to accomplish in life.
~ Bo Bennett (whoever he is...) A juicy Thought for the Day from work.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Three Day Weekend

Mother of The Artist lives in a retirement home on the other side of town. Close, but not too close. Every year, the residence has a huge Fourth of July barbeque with entertainment and lots of red, white and blue. The Artist and I always attend. It's great fun, great music, great food. I usually bring a bundt cake, which disappears fast. (You need a cake like that at a picnic, I think.)This year I had a taste of lime jello salad, which I haven't had in years. The chile is outstanding. Cheeseburgers terrific. Hot dogs? Not for me, but The Artist and his mom love them.

Each year, we sit with different people. This year, I got to talking with Max, who was a machine gunner in World War II. (He showed me a photo taken next to his tank. What a good looking guy!) Found out that another resident at our table, Jim, and I came from the same neck of the woods, so we had a lot to talk about. Also spoke with Marie, 101 years old, who told me that if she knew she would be living there 17 years she would have bought new furniture when she came. (I'll have to remember that one.)

Great party, great day, great people. (Big thank you to The Artist for a stitched photo.)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Big Sur Fire

We live on the California coast at the northern end of Monterey Bay, actually north of the bay about a mile. On a clear day, if you walk the half block down to the end of our street and look across the bay, you can see what looks like a huge island. That is no island; it's the Monterey peninsula, the southern end of the bay, sticking out into the ocean. Beyond that is Big Sur, the beautiful, desolate, sparsely populated stretch of mountains and coast extending down the middle of California.

Above is a photo The Artist took this morning of the view across the bay. It's about 75 miles as the crow flies to that plume in the center of the picture. That is no volcano. It's a forest fire that has been raging for almost two weeks, since a lightening strike during a rare thunder storm. The fire is only 3% contained, reports say. It's been 3% contained for the life of the fire.

Big Sur was evacuated today. The entire town is deserted. Gone. Nature is hard on the residents of Big Sur. Whether it's earthquakes, storms or fire, It's a tough, but beautiful, place to live.

For more info on the origin of the fire and views of the storm that caused it, see June 21.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

California Fires are Still Alive

Although we have no fires currently in our county, they are still very close.

The very strong smell of wood smoke was in the damp, misty air this morning as I headed off to my weekend class. The fire is about two hours away down the coast in Big Sur. It's a quite desolate place, although I've read that about 15 homes have burned.

Friday, June 27, 2008

What is that Plant?

I've known for quite a while that there are several little plants coming up in my garden that had never been there before and, moreover, that I had never grown from seed before. Green, shiney leaves on longish stalks. They looked eminently edible and sort-of like spinach. I longed to take a couple little leaves and chew on them to see if I could taste what they were, but since there were so few, I didn't, hoping that they really were something great and that I would have more later in the season. I couldn't bear to weed them out as I truly thought they looked familiar.

Last evening at dinner, I figured out what they were. Chard! A friend had given me a large plant from her garden last winter for Christmas. I could never bring myself to eat it, but dutifully planted it and let it go to seed. It produced a huge seed pod and I spread seeds all over in the late winter. Now I am thrilled to have chard of all sizes coming up among the beans, petunias, tomatoes and strawberries, which, in themselves, started from seed.

I love having a "freely sown" garden. Aside from the chard and strawberries, I also have marigolds, chives, potatoes and lamb's ears that have self-seeded. Well, the potatoes had a little help from me, but it sure is fun. The hardest part is keeping The Artist from weeding.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Blackberry Jam

I couldn't seem to find anything to really dig into today, so The Artist found me a job. (That's not entirely true. I've started planning for more fiber art pieces.)

Anyway, the job was to help him pick blackberries. As I've mentioned before, there is a huge patch in the alley, along our neighbor's fence. The patch was larger before some errant teenager went mudding in his truck a couple winters ago, got stuck, and took out our neighbor's back fence and the berries. Our neighbor was successful in getting the kid and his mother to rebuild the fence, in a fashion, and this year the berries have returned in force. The recent heat wave has made them huge, ripe and juicy. We can't let them go to the birds, now can we?

So we pick them, puree them and have them on ice cream. That's OK when we get a basket every couple days, but with the recent warm weather, we were able to find 4 1/2 baskets. Time to make seedless blackberry jam. I hadn't made jam in several years, because I found that I never could use it all up, even when I gave it as hostess gifts. But this time, since I didn't really have anything planned, and the berries were so good, and it was only 2:00, well, I had no excuse to give myself. So, I dragged out all my canning supplies (never very far away, for just such an emergency), put on my apron and went out to pick a ripe lemon from the tree.

In times like this, I really feel badly for East Coast people who don't have a lemon tree in their backyard. You folks actually have to plan to get a lemon to make jam, whereas I have a tree in my backyard. It was the first thing I put in the yard when we moved here, having discovered what a wonderful addition to life a fruiting lemon tree is.

I pulled out an old jam recipe book, a gift from a friend who will undoubtedly get a jar of the jam, and had a ball with my food mill, a sieve, pots, pans, sugar, a wooden spoon, a spatula and a candy thermometer. (Notice, all you foodies - no pectin. I don't like jam with pectin.) It really made a little more than I expected so I have some in a little pyrex custard cup. Oh, what flavor. What texture. What an afternoon. Pancakes for breakfast next weekend!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Another Strange Day on the Central Coast

It was 76 degrees at 7 AM this morning inside the house. Hot again.

I had a class at the local Community College today, so I packed a lunch and off I went. A few high clouds in the distance over the bay were drifting in as I drove down Hiway 1, close to where last night's firestorm took place. High fog?

By the time we came out of our darkened, warm classroom for lunch, the clouds had turned into...thunderheads? Thunderheads in June? Well, it occasionally happens here in the summer, once every 10 years or so. I truly enjoyed sitting out in the heat eating my lunch and enjoying that California grassland smell that happens here only when it's very hot, but I ran down and shut up the windows on my car before going back to class. Later we heard thunder. Still later, lights went dark and monitors blacked out. Class dismissed. Humid outside. Smell of rain on pavement.

Back here at Woodcraft Central, a half block from the beach, The Artist had been drawn out of his studio by the thunder and was watching lightning on the bay down at the end of the street. Advisories of lightning strikes. Giant splats of rain. Temperature drop to pleasant. By this evening it was really nice. But it's still 76 inside the house.

Looks like we got the tail end of a storm meant to go further north. Very nice to experience increased humidity in the area and lower fire threat a tad. Definitely not a rainstorm, but big drops are just fine. Cooler outside this evening than it was at 7AM.

A temp of 76 is really not bad. My friend in Phoenix says this is the 10th day over 110 in a row. Her new air conditioner broke. It was 86 in her house. She was off to the airconditioned library this afternoon.
P.S. Turns out that about 14 fires were started in the mountains by the lightning, all quickly extinguished, but drawing firefighters off the Friday fire.
PPS. All photos for the last two days were taken at approximentely the same spot along the coast.

Friday, June 20, 2008

It's Even Hotter!

It was over 100 today, threatening 105. And the worst part? Another fire, this time closing Highway 1 down the coast. Lots of smoke. Already there are 9 structures burned.

Fog is not predicted until at least Sunday.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Another Heat Wave

Two more days to summer, but it's hot in our normally foggy and cool coastal town. Moreover, the "chiller" at my place of business died early this morning. The chiller is a giant air conditioning system for the entire building. We had a portable unit in the parking lot when I left this evening, a large tractor trailer, but we were making do with fans. My desk is under a vent and I am usually freezing all day. Not today.

The nice thing is, usually the hot weather "over the hill" (a 2000' mountain) pulls in the fog and after a couple days of heat here, the natural air conditioning turns on and we get fog, while it's still sweltering in the valley over the hill. Today's Thursday. That means Saturday or Sunday. Let's see if it works.

The good thing about the heat is blackberries and ice cream. Blackberries grow in the alley behind the house and The Artist picked two sun-ripened pints each of two days. The Artist and I have reached the age when seeds no longer agree with the digestive system, so I use the food mill and make seedless blackberry pulp. Slightly sweetened fresh blackberry pulp over vanilla ice cream is to die for.

The Artist has several new pieces that will be photographed tomorrow.

I have entered my fiber art piece in a local show. I left it with a friend to get it photographed for several days and it loked like a new piece when it was returned, so I guess it passed the sniff test of likability, at least for me.

Oh, yes. The main computer hard drive crashed. We knew it was getting flakey and The Artist backed up everything earlier this week, but it's never pleasant when it crashes. Let this be a lesson. If your computer starts squeeking, get a new drive. Don't let your husband tell you, "It's just the fan.". Take it from me. Forget removing the case and vaccuuming out the back. Forget oiling the fan. It's the hard drive. It's been the hard drive, not the fan, the last two times the computer has squeeked. Believe me, there will not be a third time it's the fan.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

It's only June, already

It's only June and we've had two fires up in the mountains. That sort of thing usually doesn't happen until October. This one was on our side of town, about 10 miles away. Fortunately, the fire took only one house before the fog started rolling in, turning the fire back on itself and sparing many other homes.

My mother used to tell us that when she was a little girl, two different houses they lived in burned down, a terribly scarey thought to me. Once, their rescuers actually carried the piano from the back through the burning house and out the front door to save it. Of course, it was easier to set your own house on fire 100 years ago, when everyone who lived out in the country had a wood or coal stove in which they had to bank the fire to keep it burning throughout the night in order to be able to quickly prepare and cook breakfast to get the men out in the fields as fast as possible in the morning. There were also those dangers of kerosene lanterns and candles before electricity reached rural areas. How safe we now seem to be in our own homes.

My grandmother must have been horrified when she found my young cousin in flames, having set his pajamas on fire playing with his father's cigarette lighter. Having been through those other fires, she remained calm and rolled him up in his blankets, extingushing the fire, saving his life and this time, saving her home.

On that sobering thought, I bid adieu. I never before put those incidents together. I'm beginning to have much more compassion for my deceased relatives.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Merry Month of May

Alstromeria among the Sweet Peas

It's been an exciting week to culminate a wonderful month. May is always my favorite month. I really didn't realize it until The Artist and I spent two glorious, sunny weeks in England one May. "The Merry Month of May", from Camelot still runs through my head when I think of that time, and it truly is merry. Wisteria all over. Green. My friend's yard full of salvia. Lovely. (When can we return?)

The Artist was profiled in a national magazine and had a carving in another. The Artist was also on Community Television. I planted some more in the garden. Celebrated an annual event. I have had two four-day weekends. Life is fun.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Fire and Fiber

'Tis still the season

Big fire started early Thursday AM in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I didn't go for my usual walk, but on my way to work noticed huge, brownish fog rolling in. Very heavy fog and very localized? No. It was smoke billowing from a huge fire started on the Santa Clara side. Very heavy winds all day from the mountains, not the usual direction, spread the fire down the Santa Cruz side near Corralitos. Ten homes lost. Warm day did not help. Overnight, the wind changed direction and the weather reverted to real fog. It still was not contained.

I've been working on my fiber art piece. I'm doing Plan B. Satin stitch. It looks good. I still like it, even tho I've been looking at it for several months. To me, that's a test. Unfortunately, my shoulders and back are very sore from using muscles I don't normally use.

I had to run out for thread today because I got navy instead of black earlier. (I think someone put it back in the wrong place.) As I was coming out of the fabric shop, a kid on a skateboard ran into me! He was very sorry and kept asking me if I was all right. Good thing I'm in top physical condition, or something like that.

Trip to Aptos this AM to the BIG Farmer's Market, primarily for cherries. Got some 50 cents a pound peaches. I don't care for early peaches, but at 50 cents? Since they are bruised, you have to prepare them immediately; they are good macerated for yogurt. I also made rhubarb crisp. Got dates. Skirt steak to grill.

I took Friday off, so I have a four day weekend. Also, I'll have one next weekend. Kind of nice. But I'll be working on my piece the entire time.

The Artist is going to be on Community Television in San Jose Wednesday as part of a show on the Baulines Craft Guild.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ah, Sweet Peas

I can just smell them now, can't you? The wonderful thing about sweet peas is that you have to cut them, or else they go to seed and stop producing. So you let them bloom, cut them, bring them inside, put them in a vase and sit around sniffing them. Ah, Heaven! Then, they bloom again in a couple days!

I used to plant sweet peas with my father when I was little. Every April (as I recall; maybe it was March) we'd plant in front of his shop. He'd dig up the cold ground, pound in the sweet pea double-staked wooden trellis foundation with protruding little nails heads in a row and I'd unroll the string, winding it around the nails, up and down, stand and squat, and plant the big, round seeds, one inch apart.

Nice weekend. Very warm on Saturday. It was a great day to have a neighborhood yard sale and sit around the driveway in my shorts and a V-neck T shirt getting a red chest. I also trimmed the lemon verbena, which should have been done last winter. I have a hard time just sitting still, sometimes. Bought a book from my neighbor and finished it this morning. The Artist and I made $17 and change. What's left is going to Goodwill, not to the attic.

The Artist and I used our new shower for the first time last night. It's great! It works! It's big and unclaustrophobic! The Artist is playing a tune on one of his dulcimers right now - Pack Up Your Sorrows.

Today I worked on my Fiber Art piece. The Artist worked on a birdhouse to enter in a show. It's so creative! So him.

We're both tired. Don't know if we can watch that movie or not!

Guess I'll just sit around and sniff sweet peas.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hot, Hot, Hot (It's All Relative)


We're having a heat wave! Well, maybe not according to life in Phoenix, but along the California coast, it's very pleasant.

Mother's Day was very calm and relaxing. We visited friends in the mountains, then Mother of The Artist came for barbequed lamb and artichokes. (Artichokes are a specialty of the area. They like to grow in the usually abundant fog.) Mooshed strawberries and whipped cream parfait for dessert. Very luscious. Strawberries are another specialty of the area, shipped all over the country from our county. I'm still recovering from the excess. Mother of The Artist needed new "unmentionables" (as my father used to say), so I shopped later in the week. That's one of the duties of a good daughter-in law.

Cecile Brunner roses reflected in the double pane window

I promise this is my last photo of Cecile Brunner for the year, but it was too good to pass up. As I was going back inside after watering my tomatoes, beans and squash one morning, I caught this view. (I must have had my computer glasses on to see the closeup!) I loved it! The neighbor's palms and my lemons.

The Artist and I saw Yankee Doodle Dandy with James Cagney last night. What a great movie! I fell asleep during the cartoon.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Garden is Finally In

Three tomato plants, two kinds of beans from saved seeds, squash also from saved seeds, and mammoth sunflowers, vintage 1995, just to see if they will come up.

We have one reddish strawberry, one purple columbine and several sweet peas. Begonia tubers in hanging baskets are coming out of hibernation.

Strawberries in the market are incredible. Cherries from the Central Valley are coming in.

The house next door is for sale. $849,000. It's a mess from so many kids living in it. Hope there's not a monster house that gets built. Hope there's no more kids.

Did The Artist's books today. Why? I was behind. Still am. Ghastly doing it after closing the Hospital's books all weekend. Monthly meeting tomorrow.

Time for bed. (z-z-z-z-z-z)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Green Leaves of Spring

Poison Oak Leaves in the Spring

I love to hike, but haven't walked much lately because I'm too, uh, tired. No, it's been too cold. No, let's face it. I've been just too lazy in the mornings. The best time is very early, about 7 AM.

One of the reasons we purchased our little house was because it was close to the ocean and the nearby State Park and The Artist and I felt it would be easy to take walks and exercise. Close to the ocean it is, and he is very good about walking, but I've really sloughed off lately. On one weekend trip we took together, we ran into the lovely green leaves of spring above. Poison Oak leaves are just gorgeous in shades of red and orange in the Fall, and disguise themselves as bare branches in the Winter. In all states they produce very toxic oils that can make your skin itch, so I hear. They are just so shiny and pretty!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

An Unfortunate Scene with a Gopher

First Sweet Pea

I started out to the garden this chilly, foggy morning to take a sniff of my newly blossoming sweet peas. As I got half way thru the sliding glass door, something caught my eye, running along side the house at my feet, under the door plate. I, a rather voracious reader of Medieval novels, immediately assumed it was a large rat carrying the bubonic plague. The giveaway was the lack of a long tail. Not a rat, but a fat gopher. We have often seen them running around the neighborhood this year, probably because of all the building. (In this year of real estate doom and gloom, there are about 4 new houses going up and several remodels. Some people are optimistic, or else have lots of cash and want to live by the ocean.)

Anyway, this confused gopher was not going to get in the house on MY watch! I slammed the door and caught him against the side of the house with my be-slippered foot and screamed for The Artist, who was a few feet away in his shop creating a wonderful new rote with six double-faced keys. My Hero. The gopher was shortly sent to the garden as fertilizer. We checked gopher central, out in the alley, and among all the gopher mounds was a patient little kitty, waiting to pounce on his next treat. Poor kitty missed this lucious one. (All I could think of was that old children's song, which starts out, "Gobs...".)

Worked on my fiber art piece all this weekend. I have to get it done in order to get slides made for a show deadline. It was going really well until I ironed some glue without the parchment. Whoops. Time to pull the plug, cool the iron, and do something else. I'm really pleased with my accomplishments this weekend. I've learned so much about fiber art in the past three years, thanks to so many people in my fiber art group.

I decided to celebrate and made myself some hot chocolate. The way I make it always makes me think of breakfast in France.

Nap time.

Friday, May 2, 2008

I'm in love

Another view of Cecile

I counted 17 Cecile Brunners on my way home through the West Side this evening, and that didn't include the one at our old house or the one in our backyard. This is the week for these wonderful, little roses!

The Artist and I went out gallery-hopping tonight on this, the first Friday of the month. Lots of many different kinds of artwork. (But none like his. None that even came close.) The exhibit we each liked best was the clay show. Maybe it's because we're used to seeing craft. It was also very well presented. Funny, the different people at each of the shows. Some we knew, many we didn't.

I had a very good time, but very few goodies were left to eat at the galleries. For something very unusual, I drove. (I think because we're trying to save on gas and took my little car. Too late to ride our bikes.) We counted Cecile Brunners in the dark on the way back home, the same route that I took this afternoon. The bushes are so distinguished - big and so full of roses - that the huge mounds glitter, giving themselves away under the street lights. We counted about eleven, so we must have missed a few small bushes. I didn't drive onto the curb.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I'm Not at All Inspired

Climbing Cecile Brunner Rose
These little pink roses on huge, trellis-covering bushes are at their peak all over town this week. This one covers part of The Artist's studio. We hope that in a few years it will cover the entire porch. Simply beautiful and beautifully simple.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Day off Work ... So I Can Work

Cecile Brunner climbing rose

A Friday off has been one of my goals this year. Well, not just one Friday off, but many Fridays off. It's just for me. No "Life with the Artist" - (bookkeeping, marketing, publicity), no computer stuff, no shopping, no housecleaning. Just fiber art, reading, maybe yardwork. Lots of thinking. Relaxing. Walking. List making. Picture taking. I'm tired already.

More later.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Apple Blossom Time

Apple Blossom Time

Shades of Pat Boone. Lovely day, but cold and windy. The artist and I bundled up for our weekly walk to the ATM and Farmers' Market. Yard Sale on the way. (Fire alarm sound, please.) For a buck, I bought a wooden carved komoto dragon from Indonesia to add to my carved animal collection, a rather large piece, but c'est la vie. (The seller needs to repair her truck. My heart went out to her.) Earth Day in the park. We strolled thru with our asparagus, artichokes, carrots and fresia, then along the choppy bay, watching the sea otters.

We're showing off our new bathroom and office to everyone we can get our hands on to pull into the house. Waiting until we get the shower glass in to show you. It's so exciting! A real office. A real bathroom. The artist and I each swore we'd never again buy a house that needed repair and look what we have done. I added up just how much we've spent on this house and it makes me almost weep. But, it is a half block from the water. And we have a $2 million plus house going up across the street. And, we really like it here. It's cozy.

Trying to put stuff back in my work room (the guest room), the thoroughfare for the recent tiling. Dusty from leaving the door open to the outside; I ordered a new vaccuum cleaner attachment.

The artist has been in his workshop all afternoon, except for a short time with one of his graphics clients and time he helped me hang something. He's so good. He works so hard. He's a great artist.

Time for dinner. The artist is a good cook, too. He likes to be an artist in everything he does.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

One More Accolade for the Artist

More Pacific Coast Iris

The artist has been accepted into the Sausalito Art Festival! Three shows this summer. Lots of work to do to prepare for all the shows.
Interesting info I've read in the past few days:
  • On elevators built since about the 1990's, the "close door" button doesn't work. It's only there to make people feel they have some control over the elevator. (New Yorker Magazine 4/21/08)
  • Isotope signatures of elements in your teeth will indicate where you grew up. (National Geographic, March 2008)

The bathroom is almost completed. Just the commode, shower door and shower hookup are left. What color towels? I vote for chocolate brown.