Category Archives: family

From sunrise to sunset.

On Saturday we left the house early to get to the hot air balloon festival before the sun came up. Smokey the Bear was the first to get inflated and lift off. This is the same event I attended with Pippin seven years ago, and most of the balloons were the same, too.

In the middle of the day we took naps, and tended the garden. That is, Pippin gardened and I took pictures.

Late afternoon we took the camp stove and makings for Frito Pie up on the volcanic peak of Mount Shasta, to the Old Ski Bowl, 7800 ft. elevation (The top is almost twice that high). We ate our picnic dinner and stayed for the sunset.

The children took me up a ways to a place among the rocks that they call the Sunset Cafe, and we pretend feasted on plates of salad, strawberry bread and chocolatey desserts, artfully arranged from whatever vegetable and mineral materials could be found lying nearby:

We gazed off toward the west…

And when it was starting to get dark, both Ivy and Jamie fell within about ten minutes of each other, and cried for a while in pain from the shock of sharp rocks slamming into knees and ribs. Jamie had tripped over the giant rock loaf of “strawberry bread.” But they were soon done with that and we set off down the mountain again.

Today was full. This is the first year Ivy didn’t have a themed cake, and the first year she helped make her birthday pie.

Everything has been delicious.

Maybe I should take figs.

Last week’s weather caused a windfall of strawberry tree fruit (Arbutus unedo) on the ground. Much of it was in great shape, and there was more than I could eat fresh, so I tried dehydrating some. I’ve been getting figs, and I bought a box full of Jonathan and Golden Delicious apples, so I put a load of the three fruits into the box for about 16 hours.

I expected that as they dried, the tiny half-spheres would likely fall through the rack, so I put that rack on top, hoping they might get caught by larger pieces of fruit underneath.

The little buttons did fall through, but I caught them all sooner or later. They are chewy and crunchy and I hope I can preserve a few more of them this way before the harvest ends. The wind knocked down four lemons, too, which got into this picture.

The same day that I officially became a vermiculturist, an opossum wandered through my garden midmorning. I cornered him behind the snowball bush just to get his picture — not that I consider him particularly handsome… especially if I look at his mouth.

This weekend I’m headed up to Pippin’s to be present for Ivy’s tenth birthday celebration. Many of you commented on my announcement of her birth way back then! Here are pictures from previous years, including the Baggy Doll I made her for her first birthday.

I guess I’ve sewn more for Ivy than for any other grandchild. Two items — haha!

I haven’t made it up every year for her birthday, but often enough that I know it’s the right season for drinking in the beauty of my daughter’s extravagant dahlias, and for encountering deer on the property. I’ll leave you with this picture that Pippin sent me recently, of those neighbors looking for a handout. They might be wondering where the crabapples are; late frosts damaged their blossoms as well as destroying much of the apple crop in northern California this year. Maybe I should take them some figs!

The flowery gifts of August.

Nodding Violet

Right in the middle of a very busy week my oldest daughter Pearl and her youngest Maggie came to visit, and that gave me a lovely and relaxing day. They had been camping for four nights from Wisconsin to here, on their way taking Maggie back to college in the southern reaches of California. It had been a long time since I’d had some focused time with this grandchild; we did a lot of catching up on face-to-face time and hugging.

And she suggested baking cookies together, and even suggested which kind of cookies. She would like the chocolate macaroons I make at Christmas; it just so happened that for some reason I’d bought almond paste last week, not really knowing why. So we made those marzipaney treats that I’ve never before made at any other time of the year.

The recipe calls for egg whites but not yolks. So we made Key Lime Cookies to use up the yolks, and to use a few of the big bag of limes I’d bought recently, I also can’t remember why. I sent Maggie on her way with most of the cookies this morning.

We three made a feast of a dinner together and Maggie went out to gather flowers for the table. 🙂

As for tomatoes, an unrepeatable sort of agricultural science experiment has been going on here. I have a few plants in the back yard that I intentionally planted and fed and have been watering…. I staked them and have so far picked about fifteen delicious Sungold cherry tomatoes off of one spindly vine.

By contrast, growing out of a crack in the sidewalk in front is a Green Doctor cherry tomato plant, looking hale and hearty, on which are growing bunches of tasty fat fruits. That plant is living proof of what I have known for a long time, that in our climate at least, tomatoes love heat more than they love water. The only water the sidewalk tomato received was one light rain in July. But its roots, wherever they are, are kept warm all night by the concrete that soaked up the full sun during the day. I’m thinking about scattering more seeds in that crack next spring.

I need to divide my Dutch Iris this fall, so I had my helper Alejandro remove most of them, and here they wait, on the side of the driveway:

Today a cord of firewood was delivered right next to them; the arranging of that was one of the many business calls I made this week. I’m amazed at how many tasks were completed (trash removed, garage door serviced, Household Hazardous Waste disposed of) or projects started.

I was waiting in a lab and saw these signs on the wall. This way of using the word love is a pet peeve of mine, which I began to acquire in the days of the toy named Care Bear, about whom it was said, “Care Bear loves you.” Ugh. I don’t like to trivialize love by lying to a child about what a toy can do, but I also find the use of the passive-voice “You are loved” to be false.

True love is not something that just happens; even falling in love requires something human from us. Who is that unnamed somebody who loves me, that the sign seems to know about? Of course it’s all too inane. Let’s look at flowers instead. Try not to look too long at the distracting hose in the next picture. Here you can see the sneezeweed starting to bloom behind the zinnias.

My vegetable garden is quite skimpy this summer, but I am thankful to have zinnias everywhere; I will plant some greens again next month, and take my joy from the flowery gifts of August.

 

The Zephyr brought joys.

Liam’s papercrafting

While my son “Soldier” was away for a few weeks, his wife whom I call Joy brought all four children to California to see the grandparents. They came by train, the California Zephyr line, which gave me an excuse to tell them stories about my yearly summer train trips as a child to see my grandmother. The images that my mind retains through the decades related to those journeys are vivid. Many railway experiences of the current Amtrak era are worlds apart from what I knew, but I’m happy that the children had a new adventure, and even slept overnight on the train, which I never did.

Their lively group stayed with me five nights, and visited Joy’s family nearby as well. We were so busy all those days, I barely remembered to take any pictures, much less write about our fun.

braiding seagrass

Liam’s side of our Bananagrams game, using all his tiles.

We went to church, to the beach, to the cemetery — bringing along yarrow, zinnias, snapdragons and sunflowers for the children to lay on their grandpa’s grave. They are too young to remember him, so when we got home I showed them a photo slide show on the computer.

We took walks along the creek and to the neighborhood school’s playground. I read from Eleanor Farjeon’s The Little Bookroom  as I had read to their cousins last month, and laughed hilariously over “The King’s Daughter Who Cried for the Moon.”

The children combed my garden to find everything I would confirm as edible. They gathered hundreds of manzanita berries from under that little tree and chewed on them, spitting out the several rock-hard seeds in each. The strawberry tree fruits are ripening now, but the tree has grown so tall that they needed a ladder and a broom to knock them down.

These children are, as we say, “good eaters.” No matter what strange concoction Grandma has made, they want to try it — even my ultra-spicy pudding that I make with the pulp left over from making ginger broth. When oatmeal or buckwheat porridge was on the breakfast menu, they loved having a smorgasbord of toppings, everything from peanut butter and milk to chopped dried apricots and this seed mix.

I was given a dozen homegrown peaches recently and I used a recipe from Smitten Kitchen to make a cobbler, half of which we ate for dessert one night, and the remainder next morning for the third course of our breakfast, after grapefruit and scrambled eggs.

It was delectable. Where the recipe called for vanilla or almond extract I used almond. I think if I make it again I will increase the amount of fruit, and use a little less cream or butter in the scone topping, with confidence of still being able to call it Plenty Rich. And I would like to try it with plums — or any fruit!

My dear people are headed back home to Colorado now, and the cobbler is gone…. The taste of scones and peaches is already fading, but Joy and her young joys made a big deposit of sweetness in my heart, to flavor many days to come.