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

Friday, July 27, 2012

Symbiotic Passion

"Give and Take...
For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life
And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love
And to both, bee and flower,
the giving and the receiving is a need and an ecstasy." 
~Kahlil Gibran~ 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Friends, dogs, yoyos and dragonflies

My friend "C" was here last week. It was so good to see her. She drove up in a new car, a beautiful new Honda which she deserved and needed. She has been driving around in an old Honda stick shift for years. She thinks she is in the lap of luxury now. It's a beautiful car.
She brought Max, the Havanese, with her. This was a beautiful foothill afternoon... not too warm, with a little breeze. Max was getting use to his new environment. He was sniffing and trotting everywhere.
Cutter followed Max around constantly.
They all marked each other's footprints until there was no liquid left inside any of them.
Carl finally decided that it was too much effort to follow Max around all day so he found a soft spot in the sweet alyssum and relaxed.
Following Max around, in the sun, was too much for this corgi.

While we were sitting outside something flew over us and landed on the fence. It caught my eye right away in the afternoon sun.  It was a bright red-orange, bi-wing dragonfly.
A beautiful Dragonfly with transparent wings and huge eyes.
It sat there barely moving, while I slowly and carefully got closer.
 Do you know the difference between a dragonfly and a damselfly? The dragonfly cannot fold their wings flat against the body. They extend them to the sides, horizontally. Damselflies hold them toward the rear, vertically.
Both insects mate in flight.
Amazing! I'd like to see humans do that. The eggs are fertilized and deposited in or close to water. The naiads eat insects, tadpoles and even small fish (really small). Fully grown, but not looking at all like the adults, they crawl out of water, split their skin and release the adult. A magical metamorphosis.
Dragonflies and Damselflies destroy huge amounts of mosquitoes, so don't spray anything toxic in your garden. Let nature do it's job.
I love the dragonflies. We see a lot of them this time of the year... hundreds of them flying through the air... black, bright blue, brown in color. Amazing , and fossils have been found that look like dragonflies that date back 300 million years. As small as they are, they have survived in this predatory world. Man should watch, listen and learn from these interesting insects.

The dogs settled in and actually enjoyed each other. We fed them separately and they all slept in their own crates.
That night "C" and I got out the yoyo makers.
And the pretty assortment of fabric squares.
Read the directions and finally got it all figured out. It was fun. Something different. These little puffy fabric circles can be used to make blankets, purses, and added to anything to accessorize and add some fun.
This is a "yoyo".
The possibilities are endless. Google "fabric yoyos" and see what comes up. It's amazing. In fact... here is a link for you. Have some fun. It's a very portable hobby and just down right pretty.
"C" and I had a little bit of a learning curve, but once we got it we were off and running. The plastic forms are the easiest way to make them. I won't tell you which yoyos I made, but the ones that look the most perfect were "C"s. She sews more that I do. That's my excuse.
Oh, and get some really good scissors.
These are wonderful and have a spring in them (like cutting shears in the garden) and a lock... and a cover for the blades. They were $17.00 at the Sewing Cottage but JoAnns might have them cheaper. I don't know how I lived without them. They are worth the price to me.

Later that evening Max found the perfect spot to get away from Carl and Cutter. He liked his position, on the back of the couch. Little Max playing it safe...
What a cutie!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Wild weather, pumpkins and a table, Oh My...

All those clouds that I showed you last night decided to do a "cirque du soleil"  light show for us last night... with thunder and lightening and rain... ALL NIGHT LONG. It was really exciting.
The Prospector has been gone this week, so I was by myself. This storm woke me up three times in the middle of the night to let me know what Mother Nature can do when she really tries. It was amazingly beautiful.
I'm sure this is common stuff for those of you who live in the East and the Midwest but for a native, bay area Californian this was quite a show. I was somewhat nervous, but the rain ruled out lightening fires and logic told me that the odds of getting hit my lightening were pretty slim. But all the same, I chose not to touch my iron bed the whole night.
I didn't take any photos of the lightening, but three separate times, I sat in up in bed and watched this display through the window. Once, I heard Cutter whimpering in his crate. I told him that it was OK and he was safe. He must have listened to my voice because he settled down. I never heard Carl complain at all.
The strikes were so close and thunder shook the ground, but all went well and in the morning...
this was the beautiful aftermath. This photo was taking at 5:45 this morning. The storm had moved to the east and I could hear a few distant rumbles. It was so lovely.
I made coffee, let the dogs outside and... DIDN'T HAVE TO WATER THE GARDEN.

After breakfast, I went to the vegetable garden to see if there was any deep watering to be done or veggies to pick.
The tomatoes are doing well. These are the Tomaccio sweet raisin tomatoes.
They are the cherry tomatoes that can be dried and eaten like raisins. I don't find them any sweeter than "sweet one hundreds" but I'm letting them stay on the vine longer to see if they get sweeter. Maybe they just "dry" better. We'll see.
The pumpkins are thriving. The vines are beautiful.
And look... I will have pumpkins to take to the Beans for Halloween. The Beans are my grandchildren, as most of you know. I think that the pumpkins are big enough to carve their names in now. It's a fun thing to do. The names will form a scar as the pumpkin grows.
Yep, it's time to scratch the names in.
This one started green and is just now turning orange. The others on the same vine (I think.) started out orange. Strange. I'm going to have to check again and see if it is the same vine.They are so intertwined that you have to really look to see which is which.
This photo, below, shows the rain on the leaves. There was quite a lot of rain. I love the huge leaves with rain on them.
 I should have taken a closer photo of this. The rain drops are not as obvious in the post photo. But, those leaves are wet. Gloriously wet.

Since my sister and my friend "C" left, I have been working on one project that I promised myself I would complete while the Prospector was gone.
I'm refinishing the kitchen/dining table.
This was the old finish.
The clear finish was worn, nicked and had some dried Mod Podge (among other things) on it from my careless use of craft work supplies. And it was just kind of 1990's "blond".
So I sanded what was left of the finish.
Then I applied the first coat of Minwax water based stain... and had a heart attack. It looked awful.
After I had a good cry, I put a second coat on it and perfected my technique, it was much better.

This is not as simple as the directions say it is. When the Prospector called last night. I think I said something like, "This kitchen table is 30 years old and I was trying to save it, but it's not worth saving and I'm tired, and life is too short to go to all this effort." And then I started to get tears in my voice. He didn't say anything at first. That was probably wise.
When I settled down, he said, "We can buy another set if this one doesn't turn out. Sleep on it. I will be home tomorrow." and then, "Did you use a tarp?"
That did it. I told him to drive carefully and I would see him tomorrow. I hung up and put everything away. I fixed myself some dinner and watched an old movie. The table was sitting their looking,well... unfinished.
After dinner, I felt refreshed, so I put a final coat of stain on it and look...
Not so bad. I worked with a brush and finessed the light and dark areas until I was seeing "American Walnut" stain in the back of my brain.
I will probably never stain anything again. The legs and the chairs are going to be PAINTED... painted with a solid, creamy, forgiving latex paint that will cover up all the age related skin damage that this old table is showing. I'm NEVER going to STAIN again. Mark my words. NEVER!

The Prospector arrived this afternoon. I'm glad he's home. I missed him. He caught a thousand fish and had a good time.The dogs were so excited to see him. He didn't mention the table except to ask if we were going to eat at the coffee table tonight. I said, "Yes." That was the end of it. We will all sleep better tonight.
Tomorrow I will put a clear finish coat or two on the top of the table and start painting the legs.
It looks OK. I didn't show you a close up of the finish. It's not perfect and, obviously, neither I'm I. I think I better stick to knitting and felting for hobbies... although when my friend was here last week we made "yoyo's" Do you know what they are?
Tomorrow I will tell you all about them. Right now, I need a good night's sleep.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A summer storm comes.

Today it was 103 and kind of humid. Awful weather. These are the "dog days of summer" and not pleasant at all.
Tonight I'm sitting here writing a post and there is a storm passing overhead. This is one of the rare storms of summer here in the California Foothills.  First there was a quick downfall of rain, huge heavy drops, and now... thunder and lightening. It's noisy and dramatic. I'm glad I have a roof over my head.
Now the rain stopped. The thunder is more distant, but still the lightening lights up the dark windows.
I ran outside a while ago and grabbed the pillows from the chairs, thinking we were going to have a lot of rain, but the quick downpour was it... for now. Maybe we will get more later.
When I was feeding the chickens earlier and putting Annie in the garage for the night, I took these photos of the clouds . Enjoy!
The evening sky was so beautiful.
These were sun rays coming from the west.
This was looking down our road toward the south.
There was a dark streak in the sky that stood out against the white billowy clouds.
It looked strange and mysterious, like a huge bird or a alien spaceship cloaked in darkness.
The sun was setting into the huge clouds. The quick rain didn't cool the intense heat of the day.
Maybe tomorrow morning will be cooler.
I hope so. This is too hot and humid for California.