Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, May 21, 2011

"Glory be to God for dappled things..."

When I went down to my sister's house for Easter, she had many beautiful decorations in her living room but one stood out above all others.
This is called a Santos Cage Doll.
These dolls were, in history, very large and carried in parades and religious pageants. They represent Christ, the Virgin Mary or Patron Saints.
Most are reproductions now, because many of the originals are in museums or damaged beyond repair.  You can learn more about these dolls at this site. This website also sells them.
Sis wanted to buy one of these dolls but they were really expensive. Well, as good things do happen, she was in (are you ready for this?) HOME GOODS one day and she found this reproduction cage doll sitting on a shelf just waiting for her.She grabbed it up and brought it home.
The top is a resin of some kind and the bottom part (the cage) is wood.The bodice and sleeves are hand painted and distressed.
The arms and hands are movable and can be posed in many positions.

OK!... RIKI?? DIANA?? Do you notice something hanging from lovely Madonna's shoulders?
Sis has adorned the doll with your jewelry.
I'm talking about Riki Shumacher and Diana Frey. These two artists are jewelry makers of extraordinary talent. Sis and I took a class from them last year in Pismo Beach.
We first met them at Asilomar Art and Soul. We all took a class from Nina Bagley. Then we found out that they were doing a workshop together at Riki's home in Pismo Beach and we knew what great jewelry makers they were... so we signed up. We had such a great time.
 The top one is Diana's. She always puts a little bling in her pieces. The bird and the words, "Nature beats in perfect tune.", the beautiful connections, the old rhinestones and pearls all make this such a lovely necklace.
The bottom one is Riki's. She is a master when it comes to soldering and her pieces always reflect nature in some way. Well, maybe not always, but quite a bit of the time. Above the nested egg it says "Sense of Wonder". I love this piece. Recently, Riki has been going in a  "blingy" direction.... branching out with bling. Can't wait to see some of her new work.
These two women are very good friends, so I think that they share ideas and blend their creative talents ... but you certainly can tell which necklace was made by which artist.  Each is very distinct.
Please check out Riki's blog called Riki Jewelry* Romantic Relics and
Diana's new blog called Tattered Adornments.
Sis has the talent to put all these things together and make her own "collage" of creativity. She does this all the time. It's a gift.
And as for the world coming to an end today?
I really don't think so. I may be wrong. No one knows anything for sure. but I don't think that God would start anything in Spring with all his efforts at their peak.
This morning I walked out into the garden and a butterfly landed on a rosebud. It took my breath away.... The astounding beauty of this butterfly on that rose. God would not destroy this.... or any part of this. I think that someone is misinformed.
This is what I consider "rapture".... a butterfly on a rosebud.
... and God saying, in my head, "It will be OK."

Pied Beauty
 Glory be to God for dappled things...
For skies of couple-color as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced-fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.
~Gerard Manley Hopkins~

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rainbows and Gardenitis

Last night before dinner we experienced this beautiful gift of nature.

Can you see it?
A Rainbow landed right in our canyon. It was still raining when I took the picture but the sun was shinning too. That's all you need... some sun and rain together and the magic begins. We had rain, wind and some hail all day long so I took this rainbow as a sign that this was the end of the rain.. for a while. That's quite a biblical  supposition for me, but I like to throw those ideas into the mix occasionally. Keeps my readers wondering where I'm really coming from.
The Prospector said that he thought he might  go down to our neighbor's creek to see if there really was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. He should be so lucky. Nothing is ever that easy..... and then, of course, the rainbow vanished.
The clouds were breaking up. The rain stopped.
Across the Mokelumne River the rain continued and one more vague rainbow appeared.
Then all the clouds move east to the Blue Mountains and into the Sierras.
What a beautiful evening it was.
This morning I awoke to sunshine and the clearest, most beautiful day you can imagine. One of those "take your coffee outside and never come back in until dinner"  kind of days.

First we had to get a "poop" sample from Brownie. That's technical farm talk. This is a whole lot easier than it sounds. They do pellets. It's not messy, just logistically difficult.  We succeeded and the Prospector left for the valley to drop off the sample at the vet, go to an appointment to see the "back, leg and knee" doctor and a few more touch and go landings that we save up for our trips down there. 
The dogs and I went out into the garden. My mistake was picking up the loping shears and putting my gloves on.... thinking I was going to just trim a few areas back and pull a few weeds. HA!
I went down to the vegetable garden to dump the scraps in the composter and I have decided that the weeds are in love with all this rain. They were everywhere.... and huge.
I really could start a NETTLES processing plant. I have nettles everywhere. A friend on Vancouver Island, BC. told me how to cook Nettles and you can make tea with it too. But, again, I let it get beyond its prime and all this rain kind of makes it look like it is already cooked. The really nice big plants are wilted and brown. But, never fear... there are baby nettles everywhere. 
So I went to work..... weeding, pulling down the dead vines on the trellis and feeling like I was a Master Gardener on steroids.
This mess, above, became this clean garden bed below.
This only took about 45 mins. The soil was wet and soft. The weeds came up without much effort. Gloves and a long sleeve shirt are absolute necessities when working with Nettles. They aren't called Stinging Nettles for nothin'. If your skin comes in contact with the leaves, you won't believe how it hurts. You can read why HERE.
When I came back up to the front yard I saw the Vinca. I decided to go in and have some breakfast first. Good thing... because once I went outside again I didn't come in for quite a while. This is weed pulling weather. It's not hot. The ground is wet and soft. The mosquitoes are so confused that they don't know whether to bite you or run for cover. This rain is also keeping the Rattlers at bay.... for a while.  That's a good thing.
So I started cutting back the Vinca. This is a landscaping nightmare. Please don't ever plant Vinca Major. It's an invasive, noxious weed that never goes away. We have controlled it by surrounding it with rock and concrete blocks but still it spreads everywhere.
This stuff would survive Armageddon.

It's beautiful but it's so invasive. It creeps everywhere and I truly wish I had never planted it. 
Look at this...
It grew right through this rock. Lava rock is an igneous rock that is volcanic in origin. It's very porous. The Vinca found an opening and has grown all the way through. I know this happens. I've seen ivy grow through concrete. But still, I find this amazing.
So I made a big mess everywhere. Not even neat piles of cuttings. I just tore through the Vinca.
I even had lots of help...
Then I noticed that the Yarrow was almost on the ground after all the wind and rain so I cut some of it back and made another pile of these beautiful yellow flowers to hang and dry. I will use them for an arrangement later on in the Fall.
Oh, and the hillside had some huge weeds growing as though they belonged there, so I sat down on the hillside and picked as many as I could. And then... I cleaned up the Chrysanthemum bed. More Nettles!
When I realized that I couldn't stand up straight without severe discomfort and that I couldn't feel my toes anymore, I knew it was time to stop.
I have six or seven piles to clean up this afternoon. Don't you just hate it when you work this hard and  have to CLEAN UP afterwards?.. Darn.

Rockrose Collage

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spending some time with an old friend.

You know how once in a while you get all comfortable and settled in at home, thinking you will have some quality time all by yourself? Know the feeling? Yea! That's usually when something happens... right?? and you have a CHANGE OF PLANS.
The Prospector was getting ready for another weekend with his Mother in Stockton.
Her granddaughter/caretaker went on a vacation and he has been helping his sister, who works full time,  care for Mom until her granddaughter returned.  My MIL, Vi, broke her hip and shoulder last fall and has , at ninety years of age, had a slow recovery. He planned on going down to help out for the second weekend in a row so they wouldn't have to hire someone to be with her.
The problem was that a few weeks ago the old guy did a bit too much work on some projects around here, hurt his back and pinched a nerve. It was getting better but he went down to his Mom's last weekend and did some yard work for her. That's when he did some further damage.   He even decided to go to the doctor last week because he was hurtin' so badly. He couldn't sit, lie down, or get up easily and he was IN PAIN.  
 The doctor told him he had a pinched nerve and needed to take it easy. SURE! This is like telling a mountain lion not to eat the live rabbit in front of him, telling a fish not to swim or a chicken not to lay an egg. My husband is not one to sit still or take orders but the PAIN was speaking to him loudly....  like a Sergeant in boot camp. He was HURTIN'.
So by Thursday night I realized that even driving down to Stockton, about an hour away, was going to be difficult for him so.......
I volunteered to go down their myself.
That's when I knew he was really in bad shape. He never turns away when it comes to his mother so I knew this was serious PAIN.
Friday, I packed my bags, said goodbye to the animals, gave the Prospector a kiss and left the farm for a few days. 
I have to say that my Mother-in-law has always been really good to me. From the first day I met her, until now, she has always treated me with respect and love. We have a good relationship and that's not been easy for us sometimes. We are very different people. But we keep our differences to ourselves. 
I learned, early on, that your don't throw anything away that can be use again and that if you can keep walking until you're well into your 80's you will live, almost illness free, to your 90's.... and maybe beyond.  Forty years ago she taught me how to soak and wash diapers, use a pressure cooker and make Borscht from a can of beets. 
Now, she doesn't cook anything. She sits a lot, and doesn't like getting old. She says that she doesn't know how she fell and broke her hip but she's determined to get well and on her feet again... without a walker.
So I spent the weekend with my Mother-in-law. We talked a lot. We took naps. I knitted. She watched TV. She can't read books anymore. She says she can't remember what she reads. Her memory is not so good now and she gets confused easily. 
On Saturday we went for a ride. I had a CD of Rod Stewart's in the CD player. It's a disc of him singing old songs from the 40's. She loved the songs..... IT HAD TO BE YOU*, I'LL BE SEEING YOU*, MOONGLOW* and THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT*. She was singing along to the music. She knew all the words to these songs. They were the songs of her youth. She danced to these songs.
We drove out to highway 5 and then turned off on Eight Mile Rd. We drove west out into the Delta. This is the  flat watery land that many of the rivers in Northern California finally run down through, out to the San Francisco Bay and into the Pacific Ocean. 
We drove out on the levy roads that cross from one island to another, with marinas and farms in between. 
The weather was nice. Later in the day a strong wind blew clouds in, bringing rain that night but while we were out driving it was really nice.
 We turned off of the highway, drove west past a huge shopping center, a very upscale housing area and a golf course. This is all very new. There use to be nothing but farm land out here but Stockton keeps expanding in all directions. 
We drove out to the second bridge. past a huge nursery. The sign said Atherton Rd and West Eight Mile Rd. The map said Bacon Island Rd.
The resort is the King Island Resort and I thought I saw a trend here. A lot of HOUSE BOATS. Folks are living out here. These were not just pleasure crafts... many of them were being lived in and I think that it wouldn't be a bad place to live.  I would imagine that some folks live out here because they choose to live a lifestyle that isn't about "keeping up with the Jones". Some by choice and some because this is what they can afford. I, personally, think that this is a good way to live. Simple and without ostentation.
The people were friendly.... many were walking their dogs, visiting with each other and enjoying the sunny weather.
Some had gardens and houses on the inside of the levee road.... that's the side that is not water. It's the island side or the area that the levees protect.  This is some of the best farm land in the world because of the Peat dirt that was formed by the old tidal marshes. There are five rivers that feed into this river delta: The Sacramento, San Joaquin, American, Mokelumne and the Calaveras all end up here. You can read more about the Delta HERE.
The Levee System is old and there is the constant worry of levee failure throughout the area.
It has it's own quiet beauty....
IT was very relaxing being on the water.
Then I spotted something....
This cute little house boat. It was across the slough, up against a marshy area. It didn't look like the rest of the houseboats. It looked handmade. 
OK! I could live in this little place. This was very cool. No one was living in it.  It was EMPTY! How could that be?
It was just waiting for us.... the perfect little summer cottage on Bacon Island Slough. What fun!  A row boat would be needed to get over there but it's a very short distance and .... well, can't you just see it with a few hanging flower pots, some lace curtains in the windows and some chairs under the lattice overhangs. This all flashed before my eyes. The PERFECT SUMMER COTTAGE in the DELTA. Fishing, boating, two Corgis and (believe it or not) ELECTRICITY. 
There was no "for sale" sign. I may have to go online and check it out . Maybe it's just waiting for someone. Maybe it's waiting for US.
My mother-in-law waved at people as we drove to the end of the road , turned around and headed back to Eight Mile Rd. We saw this huge vine growing on something. It had completely covered what ever was underneath it. The vine looked like a yellow trumpet vine. I didn't know they came with yellow flowers so maybe it's a different kind of vine. It was beautiful and interesting.
We left the little community on the water, drove back to Stockton and picked up a few things. Vi kept saying that she hadn't been out in such a long time and she really enjoyed driving around.
Before we went shopping, I took her to Jamba Juice for a fresh fruit smoothie with bananas and granola. She had never been there before. She spotted a cheese roll that looked good so we bought that too. This is a woman that doesn't eat much at all, but she sure liked that cheese roll.She ate most of it. 
  Then we stopped at Walgreen's and Beverley Fabrics. I told her she could wait in the car while I got some things but she wanted to come in with me. She got on that walker and out-walked me in both stores. 
That night, when her daughter came home from work, we went out to dinner.... Chinese food that was really good. She was still going strong. I was the one that was tired. We slept very well. She said that she slept better than she usually does. Must have been the fresh Delta air and the smoothie.
On Sunday I waited until her granddaughter got home, in the late afternoon, and then I drove back up to the farm. The storm that had blown in during the night was going full force on the highway. It was kind of scary. 
I hit a storm cell on the highway. It was so strong that people were pulling off the road because you couldn't see through the windows. The wipers were useless.
The rain turned to hail and then to slushy rain. It was intense for about 4 or 5 minutes. Then I got beyond the big, black cloud and found my turn off. The rain stopped and as I drove on over to highway 99 and up the highway to Jackson, I stopped to stretch and took these photos of the storm I had just passed through.
IT was a beautiful sight but I was glad I was ahead of it. 
When I got home I just got settled in when the storm hit us. The black cloud came right over us and it gave quite a display of  thunder and lightening with hail. I was glad I was home... and safe.
The Prospector was glad I was home too. He was feeling better and was very grateful that I went down there for him. I said I didn't mind at all. It was fun. 
"I got to spend some time with a lady who still find enjoyment in small things. When we were leaving the Delta we stopped so I could take some pictures and I picked her some Queen Anne's Lace that was blooming on the side of the road. She brought it home and put it in a lovely little vase on the kitchen sink. She would look at it and say, " It's beautiful isn't it? She noticed how each of the smaller flowers seemed to be surrounding the big one in the middle and the small ones seemed a little different. They looked different but they were the same flower. She noticed this. She saw the beauty of this lovely wildflower. She said that there must be a great force at work in this world that makes something so beautiful. She's not religious..... but we talked about those things that man can't make.... like that wildflower. We talked about life and a lot of things. It was a good visit. 
When I drove away she was standing at the window waving at me. She has never done that before. I think I need to go down more often. 
It was a very good visit.....