"People from a planet without flowers
would think we must be mad with joy the whole time
to have such things about us."
~Iris Murdoch, A Fairly Honourable Defeat

Friday, September 2, 2011

Knitting, Gourding and Felting... Oh, My.


 This morning I took my coffee outside...
and sat down to enjoy a few moments of  late summer  peace and quiet.



 and then the gunfire started.
Dove season is in full swing. The weekend will be even noisier.
What sport is it in shooting these little birds? I don't get it.

When I finished my coffee and oh, it was good...
I watered the garden.
It was going to be a really hot day.
The Prospector asked for some help and by the time I returned to the house, I realized that whatever I did today would be done INSIDE. At 8:00 a.m. it was already hot.

A member of the gourd group and I are giving a demonstration at the Art Association meeting next Wednesday so I have been working on what I want to demonstrate. One of the projects is this bowl.
It's a cleaned out gourd that has been cut, stained and waxed with shoe polish.The inside of the gourd has been layered with torn paper from a magazine.  I decoupaged the paper with Mod Podge.
The edges were notched with a Dremel tool and have a hole under each indentation. Then I looped leather strapping into the holes and wrapped the leather around the lip of the bowl. The loose ends are where I will attach some twigs and feathers before I glue them down. Then I will add a few small rocks.
Do you think I should use chicken feathers?...
or Turkey feathers?.
The chicken feathers are more subtle, but the turkey feathers are more decorative and the colors are brighter.
What do you think? I need to get this finished by Wednesday so I've got to get going on it. More twigs and small rocks.. or moss. I haven't tried a lot of other things yet, except the feathers. Maybe I could wrap the bottoms of the feathers with the leather ties. Too many ideas.... to little time.

Another project is a baby blanket.
This is for a Mom that doesn't like traditional baby colors. She's kind of a gypsy woman and she's having a tiny, gypsy baby girl very shortly. She loves purple, magenta, bright greens and anything that is not just  "pink and blue" so I hope that this will fit into her gypsy bedroom.  This is really nice yarn to work with. It's RED HEART Acrylic yarn. You can machine wash and dry anything made with it and it is rather inexpensive. It has a nice feel to it. I will add a ruffled edge of green to it when I finish .

I'm also making a scarf out of some gray Paton's classic Wool Roving and a mystery yarn that I've had for a long time. I love the combination of the two yarns. I wish you could feel it.
I felted a test piece and the beige-gray yarn didn't shrink very much when I felted it. I will have to be careful not to felt this scarf too much because I don't want the gray roving to shrink up and pull the other yard in strange ways. But... sometimes, how different yarns shrink can be very interesting and it can form some rather unique patterns.
I love the way this off white yarn knits together.
 I really love the openness of the sections that are only knitted with the lighter yarn.
Can't wait to finish the scarf and felt it.
Felting is the fun part... the magic process part of all this.
It's really the only reason I learned to knit.


So I've got a few things to do next week.

Our oldest son will be here for the weekend so all of this will be on hold for a few days....
I have a blackberry pie to bake for "M". I promised him.
He's our son who always wanted pie, and not cake, on his birthdays when he was growing up.
So if I say...
"I will bake a pie for you when you come up."
I better darned will mean it.
Lucky, his cat, will be coming too... I think.
We won't tell Carl and Cutter.
No point in causing chaos before it happens... or not.

Will you look at this.
Cutter Butter.... hiding under the bed... where the overhead fan won't blow down on him and he can see Carl coming. Cute nose...

Oh, and Happy Birthday Uncle Earl.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Visit With a Friend

I had to go down to the valley yesterday for an appointment with the foot doctor, so my friend "C" and I made a plan to have lunch after my appointment.
Another check up for my poor, old feet. The doctor gave me some more little sticky pads, told me to soak my feet every night in Epsom salts and hot water (like that's going to happen) and DIDN'T give me another pain relieving shot between the toes... Maybe in November. He said that I can only have three shots a years and we need to spread them out. OK! The first one, about six weeks ago, worked amazingly well so I'm good to go for a while.
I use to jog, play tennis and run an exercise course at the local Junior College when I was a bit younger.
My feet were "happy feet" then. That was almost 30 years ago.
Now, I do nothing quite like that. But, I hike around our property, garden and hold ladders for my husband.
I pull weeds on the hillside and trip over farm animals.
So far, I'm not a complete invalid. Not yet. The miracle of modern medicine is keeping my feet from giving up on me.  Cortisone and pain killers are good for now.
In a few years I will have to have another operation to have these Neuromas removed.
(So all you youngsters out there... Exercise but don't over do it.
Take care of your feet. Wear really good tennis shoes, running shoes, work boots and hope for some good foot DNA.)

Well, didn't mean to go off on a tangent. Sometimes it feels good to complain a bit. I contend that it's OK to complain once in a while. It releases endorphins (my theory) and lets go of pent up aggravations.

So, after my appointment, I drove over to my friend's house.
We just sat and talked. She showed me some old photos of relatives that she has found on Ancestry.com.
She is researching her family history. She's finding some amazing things.
We went to lunch and then returned to her place. I took some photos of her patio and her cat Max, ruler of his domain and alpha cat of the creatures that live in and around the lake.
These are shells that "C" has had ever since she lived in Mendocino, CA.
They are old and bleached from the sea.
They have memories.... from a little house in the Pygmy forest on Little River Rd....
Good memories of a old friend's beautiful home, a little red headed daughter and Queenie, their dog. I was her lucky friend that she shared her life with on many Autumn weekends.
Once with the Prospector, once with my youngest son, many times just by myself.
Across Black Point cutoff to Petaluma... Up highway 101 to Cloverdale and then West to Boonville and through the Navarro River Redwoods.
From highway 101 to Boonville the heat would be so intense and then, as I drove toward the ocean, I could feel the air change. Oh, the coolness, the fog and the fragrance of Eucalyptus. Then, the river would flow into the ocean and, turning north, I would drive the back road from Albion to the Little River Airport, east down Little River Rd. and into the forest of  dwarfed trees called The Pigmy.
A right, a left and straight on through a gate.
Oueenie would greet me and "C' would be waving me into a small parking space.

Do you know how I carry those memories with me, my friend?
It was the sanctuary that I needed  and a friend who always welcomed me with open arms.
No matter what was happening in your life... work, protesting a building in town, a failed septic system, a birthday party for your daughter, Victor's death, all the mad, love affairs of your life.
You always said yes... come.
I thank you for those wonderful long weekends.

We spent two years in high school together wanting to be Vogue models and trying to understand BOYS.  You were my bridesmaid at my wedding. You finished college.
We both married and went our separate ways, finding each other at a class reunion 30 years later.
Sometimes I think it was all meant to be.

Now, we sit and talk.
Two ladies who have grown older and, hopefully, wiser.
Talking about our gray hair and about the vanity of coloring over the gray or letting it show.
Talking about our mom and dads... and that confusing  place called childhood.
Now, we are comfortable with our lives.
Well, kind of.

I know that Max, your amazing and handsome cat...now, the most comfortable "man" in your life, was probably bored to tears with our talking, but he tolerated us until...

 At some point, he slowly shut his eyes.

It was a fine day.
Thank you for being my friend.
We are not, either of us, easy people.
Thank you for what we share.
We have a wonderful understanding.
It's a good friendship.
Max, you take good care of my friend.

 Max?
Max?

Wake up, Max....



Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Awesome, Fleeting Life

Before I write this post I want to send some good wishes and strength to all the folks on the east coast that just went through that horrible hurricane.
The flooding, the swollen rivers, the damage that was done... What we are seeing on TV is awful.
Mother Nature sure went on a rampage for a few days.
I wish all of you well and hope the electricity comes on soon.
******************************


Do you ever get up early just so you can be up when the sun rises? I did this morning.
It's been so hot everyday here and I wanted to clean out some planters and put bedding plants in for Fall.
So I had planned on getting up early. We let the dogs out of their crates and they played on the bed with us for a while.
You've got to love retirement.
The Prospector got up and made coffee.
Gotta have that coffee.
It's one of my guilty pleasures.
It was a beautiful California Foothill morning....

Earlier, I heard the coyote yipping and howling across the canyon and, because we sleep under a low window toward the east.
I could still see stars and the little dipper in the southeastern sky.
I've always wondered about the stars.
When I was a kid, I use to look up into that vast endless space and wonder if it wasn't really a ceiling...some kind of  huge dome and we were really on the inside. As a child, this made me feel more secure to think that we were surrounded by a beautiful protective dome.
This morning the stars slowly disappeared and the world took on a glow. Oh how I love to see this happen. It's like the day is beginning again and all things are possible.

The first cup of coffee is ritually drunk on the couch with a dog on each side of me.
The second cup usually moves out to the front yard.
The dogs look ( and smell) for anything that might have trespassed during the night. They do their business and them they want to be fed, so we all come back in for breakfast.
The Prospector had plans to help our neighbor pick something up in town at his aunt's house, so we ate a quick breakfast and I returned to the yard to plant flowers. The dogs followed me.
Carl went berserk at the fence and I realized that a young buck was standing outside the fence looking at Carl.
The buck looked at me as if to say, "That little dog needs to chill out or I'm going to kick his A$$."
The buck just stood there, watched us for a while and then moved on down the road. Carl settled down.

A wild turkey mom and two of her babies were drinking at the water bucket.
We always keep water out for the wild animals in the summer. It's so dry and hot. We fill it every day.
The turkey don't seem to elicit the same reaction from Carl as the deer. I think Carl and Cutter are  intimidated by the size of the deer so they act tough to compensate.
The turkey are like our chickens... they even hang around together.  The dogs will bark at them if they come too close to the fence.
Crazy dogs.... they want to herd and control everything.
So, the rest of the morning was spent planting, pulling some weeds and watering. It was delightful.

The Prospector came back and went to work on the the potting shed.
He's putting the roof on this week.
How many of you know what roof sheeting clips are? "What?"..... Yep! That's what the guy said when I tried to buy some at Lowe's yesterday. It took three people to finally tell me that they only had 1/2 in. roof sheeting clips and that was not the size that I needed.

When I was wet behind the ears (as my Dad used to say) and just married. I worked for a hardware store. It was called Kelleway Hardware in Walnut Creek, CA. I managed the housewares dept. and worked the cash register. It was really fun.
Oh, what a long time ago that was. I wore mini shirts and pantyhose.... and an apron.... and I knew what  roof sheeting clips were and where they were in the store. I knew the size of nails and how to cut glass.
I loved that store and the guys that worked there.
We would party on Saturday nights, get up and go to work on Sunday... hungover or not.
Seems like a million years ago.
How life moves... like a river. Yes it does...

So the little shed is getting a roof.

and then we will start the finishing work.

My early morning planting made the wine barrels look nice, I think.

and the color is ready for Fall...

for pumpkins on the porch...
and leaves falling...
For cold weather... and Halloween.
I'm waiting...
The last of the butterfly bush blooms are in a vase .

The fragrance is so wonderful, so Summer, but I'm ready to say goodbye to the heat and the dryness.
I'm waiting for the stillness and cold of Winter.



Monday, August 29, 2011

A letter to my Grandchildren

Dear Beans,
Papa and I were eating dinner last night and we saw something move outside the sliding door. When I looked again I saw something under the grape arbor.
Do you see him?
Look closer.
It was a FOX. A Gray Fox. Isn't it beautiful?
Then it turned and looked back down toward the vegetable garden.
AND GUESS WHAT?
Another one came up the hill. There were TWO of them.
They started eating the bird seed that was on the ground below the bird feeder. What do you think that tasted like? Bird food.... Yuk!
Noni took pictures, hoping Carl wouldn't notice that there were two fox in the yard. 
Carl is very smart and he came over to see what I was taking pictures of.  
When he saw the fox he started barking. One of them lifted its head like he heard something, but they didn't run away.
They kept eating the bird seed and ignored us.
Do you think that they come here a lot? Maybe at night?... when it's dark and we don't see them. 
Why do you think that they came to visit us?
Even Annibel walked across the gravel and sat on a stepping stone, watching them.
They stared at each other for a long time and them Annibel slowly walked away. I wonder what they thought about each other. Do you think Annibel has seen them here before?
We found this poop in three different places in the yard. I took a picture of it because I know how you like the word "poopy". It's a good word.
 .... and it isn't Annibel's poop. Hers is smaller and brown.
This poop is black and has berries in it. 
I THINK THE FOX HAVE BEEN HERE BEFORE. Don't you?
Well, Papa and I just wanted to show you who came to visit us.
You can't  play with these guys... but the next time you come up to visit you might get to see them... or the deer.


... or the wild turkey with their babies. Do you see the deer and the turkey in the picture above? Some of the feathers I sent you are wild turkey feathers. The rest are vulture feathers (the big black ones) and chicken feathers (the pretty brown, black and white ones).

Carl and Cutter are waiting to play with you. 
They might even want to sleep with you.

I will see you in a couple of weeks. I get to come down to your house and stay with you for a couple of days.
See you then. 
Have fun on your first day of school.
Love, Noni and Papa
*************************

P.S.Guess what else is visiting right now?
The Tarantulas are moving....
There are looking for a mate (a friend). 
There are BIG spiders aren't they.
Creepy....
Crawlers. "Ewweee."
****************************
Gray fox information here.
Ten cool facts about Tarantulas here.