Often I wonder how my little friend, Thumbelina, is doing. Did she ever come to yearn for her winter in Mr. Mole's hole? Did she ever wonder why she didn't appreciate all that quiet time?
Yesterday on the way out to the Lake, on the way up the mountain where the clouds had come down to touch the earth, magical things were going on in the misty morning.
Houses were aglitter. Traps became sparkle. Scotch Broom, mostly thought of as a horrible, invasive and explosive species, wears the silver droplets like the finest jewelry.
Life slows to a drop still. The water cycle has begun. Harvest may be over. Some crops are in, some are not completely harvested. This is life. Here, in the earth bound cloud, all is quiet. When the drop lets loose of the Broom there is a sound like an exhale.
Yesterday my eldest daughter turned 38. Not one day has gone by that I've not been grateful for her presence. Oh, she can holler, pout, swear, lie, and stomp around. But, here's a secret: her cheeks invented dimples. Her black eyes invented dancing.
Is there anything to say about perfection? No. My impulse right now is to just jump in. Of course, we might advise, take note of who built the temptation. Check and see if you want to be dinner.
The rainy season may be upon us. The clouds moved in as predicted. They may move out. For now the drops are warbling down the drain pipes, dripping from the tall maple, drumming on the palms. I am loving this quiet, steady rain.
Before I mowed the lawn, I raked leaves. They have not begun to fall in earnest, but the beginning is here. Soon, all will be covered with yellow, brown and orange. Don't fall off your chairs: I really did mow the lawn. Once when I was in high school I mowed our burly lawn and decided then, "I don't do lawns." This is the second time for me, and it was kind of fun. Wayne was trimming the hedge, so I had company, and that always helps me complete a task. I've taken the wild approach, you know, weeds, flowers, shrubs all atangle with one another. Actually, I even like that. Now and then I fly at it with abandon and clean it all up, so it can start the process again. Here, the gophers gobble my bulbs, the dogs rip up everything else. So my yard must be flexible and resilient. I am flower gardening in large planters, and I love how this is turning out. Maybe I will just turn everything else into pathways. Lawns are silly water-wasters.
Yesterday, while I was waiting for the Giants to begin the baseball game, I was out in the front yard, re-arranging the big ceramic planters. Fix the screen door, or close the door, because the dogs are going to escape. I considered ignoring the voice, but realized I would be sorry for that dumb move, so I put a five gallon bucket full of rocks in front of the lame screen door, and went back to the planter. Crash! I turned to see two canine heads poking through the crack they had accomplished. NO! STOP! They made a joint decision to commit insubordination, using their combined weight of approx. 165lbs to burst open the door like the bucket of rocks was a pillow. LUNA, LOOK (she can't help herself, she always does), COME. NOW. Yes. You know the rest of this chapter: she looked me in the eye, and said sayonara, bye bye.
Dammit. Needless to say, I was beside myself, and when I came back into the house it was the 3rd inning. I picked up their leashes and talked out loud to myself. Fine, I said. Maybe they will never come home. I have to live without them. I hate dogs. Someone will take them home. No they won't. Luna won't go to anyone she doesn't know, unless they open the car door. Neither will Emerson unless they have food, of course. Or chickens. Oh god, what if they get into the neighbors poultry? Crap. Dammit. I called my dog trainer. Lord, I confess: what would I do without him? Can you believe he always calls me back, patiently. Tells me what/how/etc to do next. The Giants scored a few runs. I couldn't even keep up with them. I called Wayne.
Somewhere in the fretting and cussing, the neighbor shouted, They're over here, Laura! so I called them like nothing was going on, and they raced for the front door. Once inside, Emerson flopped on the floor to cool down. Luna wanted out to the backyard for water. They were exhausted, hot and filthy. My, what goes on in 20+ minutes in a dogs' life can be remarkable. Luna submerged her whole head in the water bucket. Four times.
The Giants won... 3-0. Yay. IF they win today, they're going to the World Series! For the first time in a few million years. Since the huge earthquake when The Giants and the Oakland A's were the World Series.
I love to watch baseball. My youngest son was a catcher through his childhood, through Little League. I love catchers. My Aunt Dorothy told me that my grandfather was a very good catcher. My brother was a catcher. My sister, too. Me? I am no good at throwing, though I have gotten much better as an adult. My daughter was famous for her sneaky and excellent base running. So. I love baseball.
Yesterday I posted a picture from the web, of Cody Ross, one of the outfielders for the Giants. He has emerged as a wild man, hitting home runs right when they really need them. My other favorite is the catcher (surprise), Buster Posey, who really really reminds me of my youngest.
Today they play again. I need to be calm and peaceful, as I am "on Platform" at the Wednesday Eve. service at our Center. I am plotting how I am going to meditate and focus on my reading, and listen to the ballgame. Haha. This is sounding ridiculously impossible. I will close the front door for starters.
The river is full of water released from the dam. It's evening, and the yellow light from the day has slipped behind the mountains with the sun. The water moves in a sort of false hurry.
Last week this was a beach.
It is just so beautiful. In less than a month the summer bridge will be removed, the road closed to traffic. The dogs and I still will be able to walk on the river bar. Few people will be seen. Many ducks, herons, osprey, and crows will enjoy the serenity of late Fall and early Winter.
The missing pumpkin/barking dog saga seems to continue. Bimbimbie commented in part, "Isn't it a pity people who are quick to complain about a barking dog in the night don't find out if everything was ok first..." This has bothered me a little this evening. It seems as though we could improve our relations in our little neighborhood way-out-in-the-boonies. Perhaps a little more checking-in, "How are ya?" style.
I feel a little sad that that didn't happen at all. It is not usual that Emerson barks frantically in the middle of the night. I mean, we share this house, and I am a light sleeper, grumpy when awakened in this manner, I would notice if he did this nightly!
Tonight, in the back yard, speaking with Jolee, it came to light that their chickens have been heisted as well, their colorful flock of 48+ Bantams down by over half, with no sign of an animal attacking. Seems that when they are let out in the morning, there are fewer of them. It appears as though we have a poacher at work.
Strange. More will be revealed. Eventually. Or not.
I've locked the front door. I am grateful for my pup with the booming bark, and my attentive Luna. And this too, shall pass.
Obviously, one can get carried away in one of these, not even needing four white horses or coachmen. Over the last few days, I have been puzzling over my pumpkin patch. Really. I remember thinking (I know, dangerous) that I had one for each grandchild, but would have to make do with the single white pumpkin to be my porch decor for this Hallow'een. Yesterday when I brought in the Butternut squash, I stood and pondered the sprawling Cinderella Pumpkin vines. 1. 2. 3. 4. Hmmm. 5. #5 has been hiding in the tall grass. I was sure there were 7. Oh well.
This afternoon I went out to move the wheelbarrow full of squash. I gasped. It was not full! Again, I stood and just looked. Then my eye went out into the pumpkins. 4. There were 4. There were dents in the mulch, dents in the soil, and even a stem remained where there once were my Beauties.
Now, I consider myself to be generous. But I am not feeling generous. I carry each of the Cinderellas into the back yard, and then bring them inside, one by one. They are too heavy to carry multiples. While I was inside Emerson shredded one of the stems. He just had to, I guess. I also drove the wheelbarrow full of Butternuts into the back yard, and in a bit I will stash them into the pantry.
Do coyotes eat pumpkins? Last night on the way home, a small fox trotted down the road in front of me. It could not possibly eat one of these 10 pounders, could it? On FB a video went around of big cats playing with their pumpkins donated to their zoo by stores after the Halloween sales. The personnel threw a pumpkin into the pool and the Siberian Tiger leaped in after it, retrieving just like Emerson. An enormous black Jaguar pounced on its bright orange pumpkin and ripped into it. Do you suppose the mountain lions and bobcats have discovered my pumpkin patch?
Two nights in a row last week, Emerson went ballistic in the middle of the night. Jesus H Christ, I nearly perished from adrenalin and the deafening racket. He was inconsolable, did not respond to my yelling at him, so there was just a lot of din. Of course, I am afraid of the dark, so I just stayed in my bed. Wayne mumbles, "What?" and rolls over asleep, instantly. IF there is a prowler or intruder, they get the whole outdoors, as far as I am concerned. There was strange, new pee on the tire on my car, and all over the garbage can in the morning.
Unfortunately his barking disturbed others. There were complaints. I called my Miracle Dog Trainer for advice. He has recommended that I purchase a bark collar, which I am ordering online. Then I will do a training session on how to use the damn thing. "Then what?" I asked him. "What if there really IS an intruder, and he (Emerson, that is) doesn't bark?" "Don't worry," he says, "You have Luna, she would never let anyone hurt you." The whole point of the barking collar (I know, I know.) is so that Emerson will stop barking when I tell him to do so.
Do coyotes pee on garbage cans? I suppose so.
Yes. I keep trying to pin this all on the coyotes. They are the Tricksters, after all. But, over the last few nights the coyotes have awakened me. Not Emerson. He doesn't even stir.
Yesterday on NPR I heard about a new battery of statistics concerning hunger. There is an unconscionable amount of people who are going hungry across the globe. Starving. Children, elders, mothers, are going hungry. Of course, we may think this is going on, or even know it is... somewhere else. Somewhere far, far away from The Wine Country.
No. People live down on the river bar in the bushes. Our little town is at the end of the bus line. Homeless veterans ride the bus up from S.F., set up camps at the edge of the river. They look hungry, gaunt, ragged. They don't like dogs, as I have startled them on my walk with Luna (Before Emerson) and seen them race across the river to get away from us. Dammit. There are hungry people right here.
So: Maybe somebody is eating my pumpkins and squash. I hope so. Emerson is still a pup, and is still learning his Life Lessons. I'm learning mine, too.
The red has begun. The blush. We know the goodness that is plumping up within. No wonder this fruit is a symbol of prosperity, of fertility. It is just so full. And I wait, almost holding my breath, through the beautiful, shorter days, burning hot mid-way, cooling with the lengthening nights, wait for the skin to crack, to reveal the dark red seeds. Party time: I am developing an understanding of the Acorn Woodpeckers who know well when it is time to harvest and stash.
Today I gathered the winter squash. Ooohh. Yes. I am envisioning soup. Baked squash. Yum. It has been many years since I have grown these. Last year friends gifted us with homegrown Butternuts and seriously, there is nothing on the planet quite so good. I sure hope my friend Nancy brings home some of that stupendous French burre; oh, I better stop before I make myself hungry.
Yes. I love egg photos. There is just something so pleasing about them. It's the same thing that Hafiz speaks of, something Divine. I suspect that their shape and color has always pleased the human eye.
Tierra Vegetables is a family operated, organic, sustainably-farmed farm. I first met them when they sold pumpkins and the most remarkable winter squash I'd seen since moving back to California from Oregon. They sold their produce at the Healdsburg Farmers Market, and that meeting was about 20 years ago.
It rained today! The frost isn't on the pumpkins yet, thank goodness. But the wetness brought the smells of Fall close. The farm stand was open, though not too many people were there yet, just me and one other customer.
Autumn really is one of my favorite times of the year (along with Winter, Spring and Summer). How lucky we are to live and breathe this sweet suggestion of a rainstorm today.
Fall brings us many variations of the cabbage family. This is a cauliflower brushed with purple. I purchased a beautiful cabbage, a pile of strawberries, marrow fat beans, new-crop dry beans, broccoli, and because I said, "Hay!" I earned a free tomato! See what fun it is to shop local?
These melt in your mouth. And before they get there, they just amaze with their mmm-mm scent, and ruby red smartness.
Oh, and these are mine, too. Just how they hang out on the scales is classy. Makes it easy to be a photographer. Did you know that Eggplants, tomatoes and potatoes are all related? They are in the "Nightshade" family, which you may remember, can be quite deadly.
Now. What is on my mind, is that this past week a new Whole Foods has opened in N. Santa Rosa. There is another one on the southeast side, and there is one just west of Santa Rosa in Sebastopol (about 10 miles away, give or take a mile). The new Whole Foods is stupefyingly enormous. It is now the centerpiece of an established, and suffering, mall. It is the big-box of "natural" foods. Evie had visited there yesterday, and was floored. Overwhelmed. Crazed.
She said it was FULL of shoppers. She said they have signs all over touting "Green!" shopping, green living.
What is the carbon footprint of an eggplant grown in S.Carolina, shipped to Texas and "distributed" to Montana, Michigan, Washington and California?
To add to this line; it is now "trendy" for various corporate wineries to host their own "Farmers Markets" and offer wine and chocolate,etc., to further entice clientele. Frances Ford Coppola and Kendall Jackson are two of the worst. It isn't enough that the whole area has become a monoculture of grape vines, that a county which had one of the most diverse agricultural cultures now has very small pockets of food-growing soil in production. The "must have all of the customers" mentality has gone crazy.
Now. Let me speak to the customer: Be loyal. Your farmer needs you. Whole Foods is not that good for you. "Convenience" is a myth. Do not purchase produce that is grown out-of-state. Really.
Tierra Vegetables garden. Year 'round crops are available, which is the most healthy way to eat. It is the most healthy for your body, for the land, and for our dear friends and neighbors, the farmers.
So: find the farmers nearest you and visit them. Purchase their produce. Talk with them, encourage them, send your friends.
Oh, one last thing: Whole Foods labels their produce, and they say this or that peach is "local." Ask them where the peach is from and you may be surprised to find that their idea of "local" is very different than yours, or the dictionary's definition. Most if not all local peaches are gone, now.
It's late. I have heard the woooo-wooooooo-wooooo! of Coyote. I am going to the Giants ballgame tomorrow, and that is another story that needs to be told, but first I must go to bed.
Today is my Grandma Annie's birthday. This is my favorite photo of her, and this is an awful scan, as it is, I am sure, a scan of a scan of a scan. But, you get the picture: she is swinging, even "pumping" and I love the half-smile on her face. She is visiting her daughter's family in San Rafael; when, I do not know.
She was the eldest daughter of a Scottish family, born before 1900; like 1889! (I am not sure, but I know that her youngest sibling, Uncle Vic, was born in 1900.) As a child, I used to beg her to tell me about "the olden days, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese!" I so wish that I could remember all that she told me.
Her family drove a team of horses, she used to tell me. She learned how to drive the team. Being the eldest daughter, child care was her job from very early in her life, as she was a member of a large family. I was enthralled with Little House On the Prairie images that her stories conjured, but she would also remind me that it wasn't all that easy. In other words, she worked very, very, hard, from very early on in her life.
She was born, a second generation Californian, in the hills outside of Ferndale, California. Her own children were born at Grizzly Bluff, which is a little closer in to Ferndale. At that time, there were many communities in the valley, all linked to the town, but far enough out to have their own schools, maybe a store and a post office.
Of course, I knew her in Larabee, where she and her husband had moved when her kids were young. Again, she lived in a very isolated outpost, working long hours to keep a dairy ranch and inn afloat. Recently my brother, Bob, made the remark, "They had all they needed, except money." In other words, the family was incredibly self-sufficient, they grew all of their food, including meat, they hunted (in season, of course), grew and harvested the hay crop for the animals, corn, and a large vegetable garden. Their "cash crop" was cream, from the Jersey cows, occasional boarders, odd jobs like hemming trousers, and Grandma was the Post Mistress for a time. Imagine what that must have paid.
She was tough, and stories have been told of her terrible aim with a gun. She noticed her cat staring at something in her pea patch, and she went out to discover a rattle snake. She returned to the house and got the shot gun and blew it and the pea patch to smithereens. She was also known for her kindness and generosity. She'd feed a "tramp" before she sent him back on his way to the railroad tracks which ran behind her house and barn. As a child I was horrified at the thought of finding a "bum" in the hay mow, but find them they did, long before I was born. I also understood that she was not to be crossed, though I never knew exactly what that meant. I do know that I have inherited a certain "look" which can drop a kid over backwards, make cats scatter, and stop a Labrador in it's tracks. I used this "glance" often in high school, marvelling at how certain boys would be floored, "Gawd," they'd say. "Don't look at me like that..." I see this same "black-eyed look" in all three of my daughters, even the one with green eyes.
My granddaughter is named after her. Annie. Of course, I wish that Grandma Annie could've seen all of my grandchildren. She'd have been proud and amazed, this I know.
Swallowtail Butterflies are fresh and new by the first of April. Larabee is a hidden valley created by the Eel River. Perhaps I have lived here since time began, a butterfly in the willows on the banks of a Northern river.