Wednesday, May 17, 2017


I love the look of quilts and, just as much, the idea of quilts.  They are such a wonderful blend of the functional and the beautiful;  and the best part is that they are created (at least in their classic form) from carefully hoarded bits and scraps of fabric that could have just as easily been discarded.  I just wish that I had enough sustained enthusiasm for the actual process of quilting to become proficient at it.  But I only know enough to construct the most basic, rudimentary sorts of projects.  To date: one simple quilt (that the mice discovered and made a nest in); two pillows; a wall hanging; a never-ending project involving appliqu├ęd angels on blocks -- one for each month of the year (after about ten years, I'm only on month 5); and four or five projects that were begun but now are folded in a plastic tub in the garage.  Not particularly impressive.

 We've been attending a Unitarian Universalist fellowship since last November and both Bruce and I are delighted to be so warmly welcomed into this "family".  And I love the building we meet in -- a tiny one-room school house (said to be the oldest in Calaveras County) with views out the tall windows of sky, trees and two white horses in a neighboring pasture.

The room is spare and humble, but has a strong presence.  The original bell in the bell tower is rung at the start of each service and a framed print of Abraham Lincoln watches from the wall.

This piano and bench are along the back wall.  The faded velveteen cushion on the bench was completely hand-stitched, but had obviously seen better days.  When asked if I could recover it with patchwork, I jumped at the chance and sang out a loud and clear, "Yes!"

It was only hours later, when I remembered that quilting was not exactly my thing, that my enthusiasm became mixed with concern.  I fretted off and on over the next four weeks as I tried to come up with a perfect pattern that would be worthy enough.  I visited a friend who is an accomplished quilter and she guided me in finding a lovely pattern and then helped (actually, I was so slow that she ended up doing most of the work herself) cut all of the pieces.

But when I got home and looked at the tiny pieces in the plastic bag, my spirits sank.  I knew that a pattern this complex was beyond me -- my dear friend, bless her heart, had very generously overestimated rudimentary abilities.

So I did what I should have done from the very beginning.  First, I changed my mindset from "this project must be amazing and perfect" to "this project will be good enough and everyone will be fine with it".  It is such a relief when my grown-up self comes to rescue me!

I pulled out the tub of upholstery samples that I've hung on to for over twenty years and was happy with the possibilities.  Then I found an easy pattern on the internet; one without too many seams and with pieces large enough to make them easy for clumsy fingers to work with.
And then I got to work.

Incredibly, I finished the whole thing in a single, long day.  I'm still gobsmacked by this!


 And here's what I brought to church the next day:

Imperfect and simple, it turned out to be good enough.  I'm happy.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


The lilacs budded, bloomed and bathed the air with purple fragrance for a few short weeks.  I never even thought to get a picture before the flowers were gone.  Most of the springtime bulbs are over and done for the year: daffodils, tulips, Dutch iris, freesias and bluebells.  Peonies in their large pots now arch their leaves over a magenta carpet.  The redbud shrubs, so recently radiant in soft purple cloaks are now in their summer green.  As are all the orchard trees:  apple, pear, quince, and peach blossoms have all fallen.


Springtime in all its beauty, is a wistful time.  I find myself trying to notice every last color, nuance, fragrance and essence before it vanishes like a dream.  Springtime is a fey, shy guest -- she gathers her gloves, hat and purse and leaves the party far too soon.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Cackle Fruit

 We currently have an embarrassment of eggs.  This is due in no small part because last spring I went a tiny bit nuts when I beheld the cuteness of fuzzy chicks under a heat lamp in our local feed store.  So I brought home seven.  And then, about a month later, I went to different feed store for something totally unrelated (perhaps dog food), went bonkers yet again and came home with another box of fuzzy cuteness. They all joined our elderly bunch of biddies (turned nine years old this year) and it's been a feathered mob in the coop ever since.  This is even after I gave away four of the youngsters to friends and three of the older girls died this spring.  Right now, we are getting an average of ten eggs a day.

With so eggs coming in, I've developed an assembly line sort of routine to deal with them.  I collect them every day and keep them refrigerated until I have about a week's worth to wash. They get a quick rinse, air dry for a while on the counter and then are boxed up.

* I must add that I do not generally sort my eggs by color.  One day it just seemed like a fun sort of thing to do, so I did it.  The simple joys of retirement...

Our outdoor fridge looks like this right now -- this is about two and a half weeks worth of eggs.  We give most of them away.  People in our church love to see us coming on a Sunday with our tote bulging with eggs.

I also boil up a batch every week for Bruce to include in his lunches.  Plus we might use an additional half dozen or so for breakfasts and general cooking.  So we have twenty-odd hens for the pleasure of eating a dozen eggs a week -- and then giving the other five dozen away.

So, the question is: Is it worth it?

In a word:  Yes!

Monday, May 8, 2017

My Lunch On Table Mountain

Path of the Padres never happened -- at least, not for us this year.  On the day set for our next attempt it rained yet again, so the walk was once again canceled.  This had been the last hike scheduled for the year but the ranger arranged for one more attempt a few weeks later (to her credit, she was very persistent).  Unfortunately, on that date Bruce and I were busy so had to pass.  It didn't rain that day, so I hope they had a wonderful walk even though it was without us.  Next year.

A lovely consolation (for me, at least) was that I was invited to join a local women's hiking club.  My only walk with them so far was on March 31-- a short, but vigorous (at least for the last bit as we scrambled over boulders) hike up a local landmark called Table Mountain.  It's not really a mountain, but the volcanic evidence of lava that had flowed about ten million years ago down ancient river courses and hardened.  These are called inverted (or upside-down) rivers and the far end of this particular one is is less than five miles from Frogpond.  Here is a geology professor's blog post with more detail on the geology of this area:  http://geotripper.blogspot.com/2015/04/where-rivers-are-upside-down-hike-to.html

Oaks just budding out

I'll admit that I was a bit apprehensive joining this group of women for even this rather mild hike.  True to my nature, I found myself worrying about all sorts of immensities such as what to wear (long pants or short pants?), how to pack my lunch (paper bag or zipper bag?, the correct shoes (light weight or heavy weight?), the weather (bring a light sweater or a jacket? Both?), my hat (baseball cap or floppy hat?).  I amaze myself by what I allow to threaten my peace of mind.  And then there was the larger-looming worry that I might not be able to keep up with the other ladies or that the final bit, where we had to navigate over the rocks, would be too much for me.  I didn't think that they would send me back down to wait by the car, but still...

Marsh Marigolds


Indian Paintbrush along lower part of trail

Naturally, it turned out that I needn't have worried about any of the above.  The ladies were kind and welcoming, my fitness was adequate and I puffed no harder than several of the others, and hat, shoes, lunch, etc were fine.

All of these flowers were all growing among the oaks and meadows along the lower part of trail.

The rest of these pictures show the views from up top.
Tra-la! : Hat, lunch, shoes and I made it up in one piece!

Blue Lupine

Distant Sierras to the east

Harlequin Lupines

Vernal Swale
View towards Jamestown

New Melones Reservoir 
As you might have guessed, lunch was delightful.