This is the story of our adventures -- every day and extraordinary; our dreams -- tiny and grand; our gardens -- ornamental and sustaining; this is the story of our journey.  We are a family of four living a mindful, simple life here in Los Angeles County.  We are green, conscious, and forward thinking.  We keep an eye on the past because some of the best things have already been done and bear repeating.  Walk and talk with us, have a glass of wine, taste a peach or a tomato, blow some bubbles and watch them drift up over the canyon ridge.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Love, and growing up

Alex and Gregorie are lucky to know a pair of boys, twins a couple days younger than Alex, who live down the road and whom the girls LOVE.  The boys love the girls too -- according to their mom, the way they love ice cream.  And Gregg and I, and the twins' parents too, are lucky because we all enjoy hanging out while the four wild things, well, make like wild things.  Tonight we had dinner at their house.   Alex only drove me about nuts all day, "Is it time to go yet?  Can I take a bath now?  What can I wear tonight?"  To occupy her excited mind, she and her sister painted some t-shirts for the boys.

When we arrived the boys were so excited about their presents, they put the t's on immediately.  Then the 4 little ones ran off together, with the camera, to jump on the bed, climb in the attic, put on tattoos, make bead necklaces, and snap random photos, mostly with the shutter only half open.

Apparently there was some fascination with Alex and her shoes -- there are about 30 shots like this:

The twins' older brother got in the act with a few self-portraits of his own (and his feet too!).

When we got home, the girls were still wound up and I let them draw and play with stickers for a while. I loved the way they drew some girls and then dressed them with the stickers.  I overheard this conversation concerning the young ladies they were drawing:

A: She's going to Washington.  And she's going to college.

G: She's going to the dance.  And she's going to the Himalayas!

Earlier in the day, the girls had also gotten hold of the camera. I think that if these are the worst pictures my kids take of  me, I'll be happy.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Honey in your heart

There are six books on my nightstand.  I have started reading them all.  I pick one up and read a chapter or just a page.  Then I decide, "not today/tonight;  I want something else."  I pick up another and try that.  At the cabin there are at least three started-but-not-finished.  Only one of these nine is a novel , and it just got "left behind" by accident.  Novels are either quick reads that I tear through like an amazing cherry pie or they are like a stew with too much salt -- just pushed aside while I eat the biscuit.  The collection of books on my nightstand comprises a poetry anthology, a study of ancient American shamanism , two self-help books on "writing motherhood", a book on calling the circle, and a book called Storycatcher, by Christina Baldwin.  I started this tonight.  And read aloud to Alex.  Its subtitle is "Making Sense of Our Lives through the Power and Practice of Story" and it alternates (at least in the first chapter) between telling a story of the author's childhood and talking about the power of story.  The weaving of Baldwin's narrative into her "lesson" is effective.  Her stories of reading the Bible through a jar of honey or her uncle actually eating his peas with honey, on his knife no less, not only kept Alex intrigued (and shlurping imaginary bee-goo beside me) but make the instructive passages "stick".  I guess that is the point of being a storycatcher.  

She writes:

"Story opens up a space between people that is unbound from the reality we are standing in.  Our imaginative ability to tell story, and our empathetic ability to receive story, can take us anywhere and make it real.  In the act of telling story, we create a world we invite others into.  And in the act of listening to story, we accept an invitation into experiences that are not our own, although they seem to be.  Story weaves a sense of familiarity.  We are simultaneously listening to another's voice and traveling our own memories.  We are looking for connectors, making synaptic leaps linking one variation human experience to another.  You come with me to the glowing light in the tiny farmhouse study, but you also stream through memories of your own childhood.  Who put honey in your heart?"

This is why I read and why I write.  

Monday, April 26, 2010

Livin', lovin'

I think this sums up Uncle Ted's visit from the girls' perspective:
Nothin' but fun!

Today Alex and I spent some time in the hammock -- why do kids (ahem, people, actually, if we all stop to admit it) love swinging so much????  Anyway, she started singing/rhyming.  Poet-mama was pretty proud!

I'm up and you're down
My feet don't touch the ground

Swinging in the ham-mock
rock rock rock

If you go up and I go down
Then you're feet won't touch the ground

Last Year

I was feeling good about the garden, until I looked at this:

The garden a year ago yesterday.  We are not even close to here this year.  Tomatoes are about the same but everything else is SO behind.  The potato seeds haven't even arrived!  Guess we'll have potatoes for Thanksgiving.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ready, set, go!

It's the weekend!  Not that it changes much for this un-employed family.  Here is Gregorie heading out to the Saturday morning farmer's market.  Please ignore the mess that surrounds her -- my bags for the market, the recycling waiting to be carried out, the milk bottles begging to be returned to the store, and the pet food desperately seeking rodent-free storage!
Yesterday Gregg's new hobby/career-hope arrived -- in some big boxes!

After our marketing this morning the girls enjoyed some swing time.

But Greggie wasn't happy that we had a chicken waiting in the car and just had to go.
For Alex there is always time to be the picker of buttercups and the big bullying daisies, or in this case, little tiny daisies.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Water buffalo on the roof?

I'm tired but not headed to bed because the cat is not home/inside.  I'm backwards of Fred Flintstone who wants that cat out for the night -- I can't sleep unless I know he is safe INSIDE. Most nights Traveler comes to the door and I let him in just to have him grab a snack and dash back out the doggy door, if I haven't remembered to close it first.  But tonight he will not even come close -- he is clearly afraid of the water buffalo on the roof.  Now, realistically, they must be raccoons up there.  Having a party.  Or just Fred and Barney with their lodge hats on.  But I have never in my life heard such large raccoons.  These things sound like they could crash into the living room at any moment.  What are they eating?  Neighborhood cats?

Remember my glorious iris? Well, it rained and rained and rained yesterday and those two large blooms got all filled up and super heavy and today I found the stalk snapped, the blossoms lying on the ground. So, I had to cut them off and bring them in. Gregorie said, "Wow! That is a really really really tall flower, Ma!" Yup.

Gregorie has initiated a plan of self help with the orange juice.

She also throws a fine tea party. Just be sure she serves you first.

If you'd like biscuits with your tea, try these -- OMG-good!

I never tire of looking at their sleeping faces -- probably why I'm sleep deprived! hehe  Where is that cat??????

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Is that a glass in your A$$?

For dinner tonight I was roasting a chicken.  I wanted to do a special of mine that we used to do on the rotisserie grill, before it broke.  I make a pesto/paste and put it under the chicken skin and then roast the chicken on the rotisserie.  But we have no rotisserie right now.  I thought of the beer can chicken technique and thought that if I could just stand my bird up, my recipe would work.  BUT, I didn't have a beer can.  And even if I did, I'm not sure about cooking meat at a high temperature on an aluminum base.  I thought... hmm... what about a glass jar?  I decided to google "are mason jars oven-safe" and found out that people apparently bake cakes in them.  So, I guess they are oven safe. 

With a plan in mind I went out to the garden and picked a copious amount of lavender (including blooms), rosemary, and sage.  I washed it all and spun it dry in the lettuce spinner.  Then I put it in the mini-processor with some pink Himalayan salt, extra virgin olive oil, and a couple handfuls of walnuts.  And the girls took turns pulverizing it.  While the pesto/paste whirled I carefully pulled the skin from the flesh of my chicken -- first breast side, gently coaxing space.  Then the backside, and down along the thighs and legs and wings.  When the space was all opened up I stuffed my pesto/paste down in there, rubbing along the outside to spread it everywhere.  Next I inserted the jar into the chicken's, um, you know.  Into a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes, after which I dropped the temp to 350 for another 1.5 hours or so.  With 40 minutes left I added quartered fingerling potatoes.  

Accompaniments were steamed broccoli, fresh bread, and what I call the Greggie salad.  The salad is not named for her because she loves it -- rather because it likes to be naked!   A mix of green leaf and romaine tossed with LOTS of fresh basil, cilantro, and dill, it screams, "Don't dress me!"

Monday, April 19, 2010

Each Spring Day

Since settling back into our home, each April day seems like a celebration of light and color, smiles and exploration, growth and rebirth.  

Growing up in New Jersey, every May my mom's bearded iris, flags as she called them, would bloom in an elaborate show of color.   This property came with one loan iris bulb.  Why I haven't planted more, one can only wonder.  I think perhaps it is because I forget how glorious its blooming is -- it lasts so short a time in a climate where flowers bloom year 'round.  But every year, one day, my iris shocks me with its vibrant violet and gold.  Today was that day.  There are multiple stalks this year and each has numerous buds so I should be beholding this glory for a week or so at least.

I decided to put a row cover on the lower bed with all my tiny new pea, lettuce, mache, kohlrabi, sweet pea, and arugula sprouts -- I want to keep the birds from enjoying a fresh salad on my tab!  Gregorie said there was now a ghost in the garden and ran away in mock terror.  Alex and Traveler went exploring the lower hillside.  And she learned that coming up is sometimes not as easy as going down!

The tomato bed has been filled with tomato seedlings and the stakes to support their impending greatness have been placed!  We'll run twine along the stakes, essentially sandwiching the vines between the strings, keeping them flat and vertical.

Perhaps the "tomato bed" should be called the "yarrow bed" -- the stuff is out of control!
Gregg picked up some new lavender plants which together with the yarrow will make a border on the OUTSIDE of the bed.  Just on the inside, in front of the tomatoes, along a drip line, I'll plant carrots (tomorrow hopefully -- let's see, that will give me carrots for, say, Halloween??). 
These are little pepper seedlings in a ring in front of the pea/bean teepees.  They are not very picturesque, yet, but I wanted a "before" shot of them!
Here is my perennial borage -- the stuff grows like a weed in my lower beds!  Love it!
Rainbow chard that was planted last year.
And an oak leaf hydrangea about to bloom!