I will be the gladdest thing under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one.
~Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Afternoon on a Hill"

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Good Friday and a wish for all of you.


May all your days be blue skies and wild grasses in Spring.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Something Wicked This Way Comes.... but there was Joy in the Morning.

I took a long walk yesterday afternoon up into the hills. This is what it looked like at about 4:00 p.m.
The wind was blowing through the trees, moving the clouds across the sky. Everything was so lovely.... as if Nature was at peace with the world. I even stopped up there, closed my eyes and just stood there for a few minutes, feeling the warmth of the sun, listening to the sound of the wind, the birds, the distant traffic noises from across the canyon and the strange little squeaking sound that kept coming from one of the oak trees... a bird possibly.
Then I heard a clicking kind of buzzing ... looked down I saw a grasshopper land on the grass in front of me. It was black and medium sized. I tried to lean quietly over and take a picture. This is what I photographed.
Because it flew so close I didn't have to move and I was able to catch it with the camera. It could be a House Lubber Grasshopper. The description says that it is shiny black, about 11/2 to 2", with yellow veins on its wings. I didn't see it fly in, so I'm not sure about the yellow color.
I had my eyes closed.
I was communing .
But it did fly in and I heard its characteristic sound. It says, as I read my field guide, that this "music making" serves as a form of warning, a way to establish territory, or a move in courtship. I like to think he spotted me and decided to be friendly on this beautiful day. After all I was standing still and this little guy flew to me. Their Habitat are grasslands and woods with Live Oaks. That's us.... lots of grass and oaks. It's hard to say exactly what kind of grasshopper it was because in North America alone there are over 1000 species.
I took four photos before it flew away to something more interesting and I continued on down the trail toward the house.
********************
The wind was picking up and the sun disappeared. When I passed the goats they seemed restless and were heading for the goat house.
I went in and fixed dinner. The Prospector said something about the weather on TV. There was a "cell" moving over Amador county. They were spot on. We had finished dinner and watched Jeopardy. I let the dogs outside and they ran around peeing on everything and chasing each other.  The sky got darker and more ominous and then we heard rumbles from across the river canyon. The sun was trying hard to leave a last impression on us.
The clouds to the east didn't look that bad but the sun was losing the battle.
To the south the sky got a strange look that seems more frequent in the last few years. Clouds that carry the sunset  with them but lay like high fog over the foothills. They have a different look to them.
Standing out there, looking to the west behind the house, there was a darkness moving over the hills that said..." Time to take the dogs into the house and stop standing out here like a fool taking pictures.".
I called the boys in and taking one last photo from the porch...
... we retreated.
We watch this storm hit. First the wind, then the thunder and lightening, and then the hail. Huge pieces of hail that fell, plummeling my flower garden, battering the roof and scaring the dog boys under our bed. Cutter would bark at the thunder every time it hit. I just stood there watching my Iris, hoping for a miracle.
The storm knocked out the TV and the computer. We ended up reading for about an hour until the storm blew itself out and move east where it became snow for all the worn out folks up country and into the Sierras. It was a slow moving storm that planted itself at about the 3000 ft. level for quite a while. We watched it leave and saw the ragged bottoms of the clouds that has just gone over us. We had been told that "ragged bottoms" are the strange rough underside of a very large cloud that produces Tornadoes. It definitely looked like what a blogging friend in the Midwest calls a "bad cloud". We don't get Tornadoes up here but we have had a few in the Valley recently.
I watched that cloud for a long time. I think I kind of understand what it must feel like to know that something  horrible would come down out of the clouds and do great damage to a town or community. Tornadoes are monsters, dark and sinister wind, exposing life to fearful disaster and pain. I can't imagine what it must be like to see one come out of a dark cloud. I'm sure that it's one of nature's most frightening events.
This cloud moved on... and by evening it was dark and quiet.
I heard rain late in the night. As I lay there, save and protected. I felt thankful for this sanctuary that I call home and the protection it effort us here in the California foothills. I said a thank you prayer before I fell back to sleep.
I won't always be so safe. Something wicked eventually comes, but we live each day with hope that there will be Joy in the Morning.

This post was for Karen Deborah and all of those that suffer from chronic pain and depression. We all suffer "storms" in our life. For some it's more difficult than others. This is a kind of a prayer for those who weather each day with fortitude and grace.

(My Iris survived the hailstorm. They are a bit ragged but they are fine. )

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring Reigns

"Everything is blooming most recklessly;
 if it were voices instead of colors,
there would be an unbelievable shrieking
into the heart of the night. " ~Rainer Maria Rilke

"It's spring fever. 
  That is what the name of it is, 
And when you've got it, you want... 
- oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want,
but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!"  ~Mark Twain

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"An Old Man Loved.. is Winter with Flowers" Part II

As I walked to the top of the property this morning I thought about the way life changes constantly and how we, sometimes, fear this obvious truth.

How these huge old trees at the top of the rise were standing upright and living when we first moved here. Now they lay in the spring grass, mulching into the earth and becoming a part of the soil that nurtured them.
This was a little house that we found when we first bought the property some fifteen years ago. It stood erect and almost livable then. Now, slowly,  it's being engulfed by the Poison Oak and every year becomes more a part of the  natural environment that seems to be pulling it's wooden skeleton back into the earth.
It's a passage. It's the way of all things.
*****************
  My uncle's birthday was a wonderful celebration: This was a party for my Uncle's FIRST (as someone said) ninety years . A celebration in a town that knew him well and respected him enormously. A celebration of someone who had reached a milestone in his life.
He was movie star handsome. He was born in Berkeley, California but grew up in the Napa Valley on a ranch with my mother and a sister and lots of relatives. His father died when he was only 2 years old so his mother brought her family, from Berkeley, back to the family ranch in Napa where he developed his love of fishing, hunting and got into all kinds of mischief with his cousins. He joined the Navy and then, after the war, he married and had three daughters.
When he was offered a job in Susanville, CA. he took it and the rest is history. Other than a very miserable short job near San Jose and getting a Master's degree in Eugene, Oregon, he has always lived in Susanville.
He was a track coach at the high school and then worked at Lassen Junior College.
On Saturday night we realized the impact he had on so many people's lives. He was visibly touch by the warm tribute in his honor.
There were all the coaches and teachers there that he had worked with over the years.
Some former students  told stories about this man who was tough but fair, who pushed them on to a achieve more than they thought they ever could and the respect they had for him.
 And of course his family was there. His two daughters got up and talked about their dad.... Memories of being young and having a "coach" for a dad.
 It was a wonderful evening with good wishes, lots of stories and really great homemade food. I'm still drooling over a cheesecake pie that Sis, my cousin and I snuck out of the hall, ( there were only two pieces left) brought back to the B&B that night to eat again, with our innkeepers, to see if we could figure out what was in it. OMG! It was so good. We're still working on this. My cousin and I are researching it on the Internet. I will let you know if we come up with anything. We couldn't fine the person who made it. I would guess that they left early or figured that there wouldn't be any left to take back home with them. THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN RIGHT. We know it had cut up cranberries (dried) IN the cheesecake and lots of orange zest on top of it. IT was creamy and delightful. Excuse me..... my mouth is watering again.
Everyone left the Senior Center full of good food and good wishes for our Uncle. It was a wonderful evening.
******************
The next day we drove over to my Uncle's house. ( please notice that the snow is completely gone.)
and had another little party of our own with lots of the leftover food and lots of conversation. We don't get to see our cousins very often so this was a nice time to talk about being young.. and vacations that we spent together.. and grandma's house in Napa.. the Ranch and all the childhood memories of  places we shared. We talked about our mothers and looked at old photos of them when they were very young. We talked about missing our cousin, Uncle Jimmy's oldest daughter and how she would have enjoyed this weekend. She died of cancer a few years back. She was only in her 50's. It was very sad. Maybe she was watching all of this, somewhere,  with Mom and Grandma. I hope she was. We miss her so.
This is my uncle's garden. He loves his garden. The Winter weather stayed late this year so he hasn't planted much yet but he knows where he will plant everything and what the names of all the fruit trees are and the varieties. He tells us how he grafted them many years ago and which ones are doing well... which ones are not.
Gardening, walking and friendships are the mainstay of his life now. He seems to be happy with his life. This says a lot for staying in one place.... putting down roots.... being satisfied with your choices. He seems to be a peace filled man. 
Saturday night when he was asked to say a few words, he thanked everyone and then he talked about those times when you have a dilemma or a decision to make. He said that you should always come from a place of love. You should always try to make the decision based on LOVE. What a wonderful philosophy.
It's not a simple thing.. this growing old, but we can learn from a 90 year old who knows that life is short and still treats the world with kindness.
Happy Birthday Uncle Jimmy. We love you.