Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sundays In My City...Summer Arts Festival


It's been awhile since I've done a Sundays In My City post.  It's a perfect time to do one today since I went to the Summer Arts Festival this morning.

I got up very early and took the boys down the mountain to the VA complex for a nice long walk.  It was already heading into the 80s at 9:00am, though there are many trees shading the sidewalks which helped the dogs stay a bit cooler.  Marginally.

After I brought them home, I went back down to the Festival.  I was there early--right at 10:00 when they opened--so I got a nice parking spot that wasn't too far from the entrance, a good thing as the temperature signage across the street from the park said it was already 87*.




There were over 100 vendor tents and several food booths, so there was much to see.  Unfortunately, most of the booths were alarmingly too hot--like an oven actually--so spending any length of time browsing was killer.  I felt sorry for the folks down this avenue: no shade at all.

This booth had their three outer tent walls covered in their oil paintings.  It was very colorful, and really caught your attention.  This is the back wall which you could see clear across the park...




I loved this.  The guy uses all these rusty old parts from things he finds in junkyards and discarded farm equipment, and welds the bits into these very cool art forms.  This piece bounced on the big bottom spring while the "hair" bobbed on smaller springs.  I might have been tempted to use it as a deercrow, but it was already sold.





Another metalworking booth, though this guy did more fantastical stuff.  He had monsters and dragons and elves and bugs.  This dragon was easily 8 feet tall and shimmered in the intense heat.


I spent several minutes at this tent talking to the woman who makes pine needle baskets and gourd bowls and vases.  Her work was astounding. 

She gets her needles from Arizona and when I was admiring this piece, she told me to smell it.  I've spent some time in the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico.  I was transported.  There's a dry wildness to the desert, a sharp pungency in the air of dust and sand and lizards and cacti...and every bit of that was in this basket.


I've always wanted to take a class in pine needle basketry--and one of these days I will--though this was beyond the simple basket and into fine art. 

There's a guy named Peter Alsen, who is a local potter.  Several of his pieces have been in the Art Center gallery shows.  He makes whimsical and wonderful ceramic creatures.  In Week 6 of the 52s, I went to my first exhibit and fell in love with his work.  I  was getting very overheated at this point and went under the trees to get out of the blistering sun.  As I was walking between two tents, I glanced into one and immediately recognized the pottery.  And I got to meet the man behind the whimsy.




We had a long chat about his work, how it's changed, evolved, from his crazy, crackled early work to these incredible raku bowls and vases.  Because his tent was under the trees, it was a bit dark for my photos, but you can see the designs and intricacies...and his skill.  It was very cool to talk to him.





Along with his venture into raku, he's also making these perfect little oriental figures.  The hat comes off like a lid, so the piece can become a vase, or a container, or just sit on my kitchen counter next to my bonsai plant.  It's about 6-1/2" tall and has such character.  At some point his name will come to me...


I would have liked to take more photos, but the sun was too bright and in the wrong part of the sky, and the rest of the time I was endlessly wiping sweat off my brow.  By 11:30 or so I had reached maximum overdrive and had to call it a day, though by then I'd pretty much seen everything.  It would have been fun to sample some of the local food and drink, but frankly, the humidity was so annihilating, eating was the last thing I felt like doing.

So, regardless of the sun's attempts to fry the little ant people, the Arts Festival was a truly great way to spend a few hours on a Sunday morning...
 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Seasonal Angst




Well, it's that time of year again, when the Gates of Hell crack open for another long, scorching, miserable Summer.  I'm pretty sure I heard the grinding and gnashing over the furnace blast of heat that swept through the valley and roared up my mountain yesterday.  Temps are now in the high 90s, heading into triple digits tomorrow or Monday, no end in sight, and definitely no rain now until Fall.

Do you ever wonder how you ended up where you are?  How the entire course of your life can be altered by one small decision, one little deviation from the path as you blithely stroll along?  I'm sure there are many of you who are exactly where you want to be.  I am not one of you.  I prefer cooler weather, rain and storms, and will gladly let you have heat and humidity, the nuclear intensity of the killer sun.

But, until I get that little cabin in the wilds of Alaska, here is where I am.  The dogs and I will spend another Summer up at dawn to walk before it gets too hot to breathe, I'll have to reschedule all my chores and garden work for early mornings, I'll be making gallons of sun tea and giving the boys ice cubes for cool treats, and there will be many dreams of hearty soups and stews...until one morning that heavenly tang of Fall will be in the air and I will smile with true anticipation that those flaming Gates will soon be closing...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Week 26 of the 52s...The Painted Lady


Though I have a passing acquaintance with the other 16 homeowners up here along my mountain road, there are two women I know better than the rest.  Occasionally I have gone out to lunch with one or the other in the last couple of years. 

Last week whilst hiking to the mailbox, I stopped to chat with Lucia, my Argentinian neighbor--four houses down from me--and in the course of catching up on news, I mentioned doing the 52s.  She was most intrigued, and in the spirit of fun and adventure, invited me to lunch at a very unusual place. 

The Painted Lady, Bed & Breakfast and Victorian Tea Room.  I would never have discovered this place on my own.  It's about 20 miles south, in an even smaller town than where I'm currently residing, and off the main road in a quiet, nondescript neighborhood.

A wonderful house, built in 1900, named after the Painted Ladies of San Francisco.  And every single nook and cranny is stuffed to the rafters with Victorian kitschy cool stuff.  Bridal veils hang from the ceiling in the main parlor and waft gently overhead in the breeze from the open front door; umbrellas in a multitude of reds dangle in another room, and interspersed amongst the plethora of treasures are the dining tables, randomly placed and decorated in colors that match the rooms.

From the outside...


The front parlor...


One of the side rooms...in shades of blue...


The Red Room...



We decided to sit outside at a small table on the veranda.  There was a perfect little shaded corner, the air perfumed from the flowers growing in wild profusion beneath the porch in the cottage-style English garden.  

I lost track of my camera for a time--okay, I totally spaced it--while Lucia and I talked, though I did manage to take this shot of my delicious sandwich: Black Forest ham and Swiss on a just-baked croissant bun...


After lunch we wandered along the wrap-around porch toward the back where the car was parked.  There were so many plants and shrubs, trees and blooms, every nook and cranny outside was just as stuffed as the inside. 


The back entrance, and the old-fashioned kitchen garden, bursting with herbs and lettuce and edible goodness...


Not only was the Victorian house a lovely old building, but you could easily spend an entire day exploring the many niches and rooms and cupboards filled with memorabilia of an era lost in time.

I think The Painted Lady was a perfect place to have reached the halfway point in my quest.  26 Weeks done...and I didn't miss a one.  Some of my adventures have been marginally successful, some have been great, all have given me a better sense of myself and my world.

And yeah, I'm definitely looking forward to the next 26...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Back In The World

Monday passed in a whirlwind of chores and humidity, sweat and crankiness.  I ended the crap day by drinking a large glass of wine and diving into another new book.  I should have been working on the serial, writing the blog, taking photos, but I was still off the grid in escape mode.

In an attempt to get back on track, I went to Lowe's this morning and accomplished two major things, then had an unexpected thing happen that made me smile at the kindness of strangers.

The first thing I had to do at Lowe's was get spare keys made for all the doors.  Overkill, no doubt, but after the aggro of Friday night, I don't care.  The second item on the list was figuring out how to replace the bent and broken screen.

I get the keys made, then wander down the "screen hardware" aisle (who knew?)  I bought the screen frame repair kit and the screening material, but the tool that joins the mesh to the frame is sold out.  I ask one of the clerks what this tool looks like as I might be able to use something I already have.  He's not too clear in his description, so I try to pin him down starting with flathead screwdriver and work my way to pizza cutter.  There's another person in the aisle looking at screening.  He interrupts and says the tool does look like a pizza cutter, but has a groove in the center of the wheel, to fit the beading that will hold the screen in place, then tells me he has several in his truck and will just give me one.

What?  Just...give me one?

I smile and say no, I couldn't possibly take one of his tools, but how kind of him to offer.  He tells me he's a door and window man--by occupation--and has just stopped into Lowe's on his way to a window job.  He assures me he has several of these screen tools and insists on giving me one.

I'm still a bit leery as I follow him to his truck, but sure enough, he digs around in the ginormous tool box in the back of his rig, then hands me the tool.  I thank him profusely and offered to pay, but he gruffly refused, climbed into the truck and drove off.  What a very nice thing for someone to do.

My new screening tool...


Building a totally new frame should be interesting.  I have four 60" lengths of metal that I have to cut (with a hack saw) into the right dimensions and assemble, then cut the mesh and install it with the tool.  And hope when I'm finished it will actually fit into my window.

Oh, the margin for error.  It boggles the mind, doesn't it?

With that thought swirling, I procrastinated put off the screen project for another day, and decided to tackle something else instead...

I have many plants in my house; to my mind, plants make a house into a home.  In light of that, I've spent the better part of the afternoon watering, aerating, feeding, pruning and moving my plants to different areas around the house.  It's my version of Summer vacation for them: new sights and sounds and sun and space.

In the process, I discovered my Bromeliad, which I've had since it was a little sproutling, has bloomed!  This miraculous flower wasn't there last week when I watered and I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  I've never had a Bromeliad actually flower in captivity...so to speak.  It's not flashy, in fact the bloom is very understated, but still, how cool. 

My first ever Bromeliad flower:


















A bunch of keys made, screen kit purchased, a new tool from a very kind man, and an unexpected floral gift.  All things considered?  A really good day to be back in the world...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Week 25 of the 52s...Pastry Deliciousness

As I mentioned in an earlier post, when I haven't found anything noteworthy to do for fun and adventure in one of my Weeks, I rummage through recipes I've saved for rainy day experiments.  Over the course of the 52s, I have had marginal success with this.

Last night I made an Asparagus and Parmesan Cream tart.  And let me just say...OMG.  This recipe is at the top of my food chain, second only to Week 2's CafĂ© du Monde beignets.  It was easy, with a minimum of fussiness and few ingredients.  It only took about 20 minutes to make, another 20 to cook, and far less to eat two of these yummy morsels.

The recipe makes 4 pieces that fit just right on a baking sheet...
















And two pieces fit just right on my plate...






The bottom is puff pastry, the filling is a mixture of cream cheese, Parmesan, lemon and basil, then topped with fresh asparagus.  Right out of the oven, they're sprinkled with grated Parmesan.







The crust was flaky, the cream rich yet with a little bite from the lemon, the asparagus was cooked to perfection.  Honestly?  I could have eaten the whole thing.  Thank goodness I am learning restraint as I lurch through adulthood.

So.  A wonderful, delicious dinner, and I have the other two pieces to eat today.  Yum.

A most excellent choice for this week's adventure...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Ah well...

Just in case any of you, dear readers, have ever thought me a clever, intelligent woman, let me disabuse you of that notion with this little story...

Last night I went out on the front deck after dark trying to pinpoint where the moon would be rising.  I plan to take some photos of the supermoon and wanted to see exactly where in the sky I should be looking for Saturday's shots.

The moon was nearly full and incredibly bright...mesmerizing I think would be apt since I walked outside and never spared a thought for the door.  It's never closed on its own before, so I was totally stunned when I heard the soft, almost gentle snick as it shut.  And in that quiet moment between no it didn't and yeah it did, I wondered how it was possible this could have happened.

With a sinking feeling, I remember the fans.  I had two big box fans blowing in the house because it was a very hot afternoon and evening.  Evidently they generated enough air flow to shut a heavy, solid wooden door.

My heart raced as I lurched for the door knob, but of course it was way too late.  Unbelievably, it's shut and locked.  Locked.  I am flaming hell locked out of my house at 9:30 at night, in the dark, no shoes, no keys, no tools, no nothing.

Damnation.

Okay, deep breath.  Don't panic.  I have a spare key stashed in the backyard under a large rock.  Whew.  Down the steps, quick dash up the driveway, open the gate, and into the rocks I go for the key.  The moon is casting a brilliant light everywhere but in this one place where the key is hidden.  Lifting the stone, I grope, cringe a bit when I disturb a family of potato bugs who roll away under my fingertips.  But.  Where is the key?  I need the key to get into the garage to find the other key that will let me into the damn blasted house!  Where is the key?

Oh holy crap.

I never got it back from my neighbor up the road when I was out of town last year.  My neighbor who is currently in Canada.

Okay, deep breath.  Don't panic.  I look up to the back deck and realize my bedroom windows are open.  All I have to do is pry off one of the screens and climb through the window.  Yeah.  Easy peasy and Bob's your uncle. 

I should have known.

Have any of you tried to remove a screen with your fingernails?  No?  It's an experience.  And it doesn't work.  You need a screwdriver.  I didn't have a screwdriver, or any other tool.  I scrabble, I pinch, I prod, I curse like I've been possessed by an underworld fiend.  Finally, many long minutes later, I get my littlest finger wedged between the screen frame and the window.  I tug, I finagle and at last the top half of the screen pops away.  The bottom half however was apparently Superglued in place.  It will not come out, wiggle, move up or down, nothing.

I lose my patience somewhere between slicing my finger on the metal window frame and torquing my shoulder trying to manhandle the screen with brute force.  I wish I were a 6-1/2 foot, 240-lb biker.  With tools.  Realizing I have no choice, I give up trying to save the screen and bend the upper portion down--yes, I bent the frigging damned frame--and try to squirm through a pie-shaped wedge my wee dogs would have trouble getting through.

I get one leg in, now I'm straddling the sill, and am just pulling the other leg in using a hop, slide, suck-in-the-belly movement, when my long gauzy skirt gets hooked on something.  I love this skirt.  It's new and jade green and wispy...perfect for hot Summer nights.  Carefully I try to back out of the window, but suddenly the screen breaks free of the Superglue hold.  Teetering on one leg, I lose my balance and fall forward--through the open window--taking the screen with me, accompanied by the wretched sound of my skirt ripping to shreds as I hit the floor in my bedroom.

The frigging screen...


And the damage of an Evel Knievel jump across Hell's Canyon...er...plunge through the window...



So.  I ruined my skirt, will have to replace the bugger screen, and nearly nuked myself for the second time this week.

I can't say much for my intelligence...but I did manage to get into the house.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Moons...

Happy first day of Summer, peeps!!!  

Remember how that felt?  School finally over, the exciting long days of Summer looming hot and sweet ahead, Fall not even a speck on the horizon, or in the mind. 

Freedom.  At least in my memories...

Sleeping in, no homework; lazy days, swinging in Dad's old canvas hammock, reading; swimming in the lake, cold until July when it turned into bathwater; playing baseball at the park; slurping sno-cones sticky and juicy, icy and delicious; laying on the garage roof watching shooting stars flash across the heavens; sleeping in the backyard on hot, humid August nights, waking with the birds in the early morning sun; camping, S'mores, wood smoke permeating clothes and hair, forest smells more enticing than any perfume.

What a wonder it would be to once again feel that complete and utter sense of excitement, of possibility, that only a kid can feel on the first day of Summer...

**********************************************

Tomorrow night is a Supermoon, the closest the moon will come to earth until August 2014.  It's always bigger and brighter when it just rises, though being in the mountains, by the time it tops the ridge line to the east of me, it's higher in the sky than I'd like.  I've been thinking of where I might go, somewhere flatter, more exposed, though surrounded by ridges and hills and mountains, I would have to drive way out of town to find an open vista for some good photographs.

Last year I managed this shot off the front deck, through my Birch trees, and though the moon is glorious and huge, it's still not as impressive as it will be when cresting the horizon on Saturday night...



**********************************************

I'm struggling a bit to find my adventure for the 52s this week.  I know what I'm doing next week, though that doesn't help me now.  On the few occasions when I've been stumped, my fallback has been cooking or baking something new.  If you've followed along with me on those disasters adventures, dear readers, you know my track record is not good.  Still.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained. 

And just think how happy the birds and wildlife will be when yet another one of my dreadful recipes gets lobbed down the mountain...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Moody Blues


For some reason, I've had a couple of Eleanor Rigby days. No clue why exactly, but when I get in these funks, the only thing that helps me is to escape into a book. Sometimes, if there's a dearth of reading material, or everything I pick up loses me within a chapter or two, it's much harder to hack my way out of the jungle.

I've been very fortunate this past week because every book I have reached for has been a great read. How often does that happen? In fact, I've been on a binge, reading one after another, like potato chips, or Godiva chocolates. I stayed up until the wee hours on Monday to finish one of the funniest books I've read in a very long time. I kept having to stop reading, wipe my eyes and blow my nose. When I'm in Eleanor Mode, laughing is hard to come by, so I treasured every tear and tissue.

I had planned to write the next installment of the serial on Wednesday, but it's eluding me.  I know what I want to write, I just can't look at that blank white page and get the first sentence out.  Still, I hope to do it this week, for sure.




I was out watering last night when this handsome lad came by for an evening dip in the birdbath.  He made a big mess, splashing water everywhere.  He was very thorough--no doubt a hot date later--though he totally looked goofy when he perched in the pine tree to dry off.




 


This is for my sister.  Last month when she and my mother were here, I couldn't for the life of me remember the name of this plant.  It hadn't begun to bloom, nor apparently had my brain.  It wasn't until this luscious neon pink flower appeared that I knew...

To (finally) answer your question:  Salvia






There have been a series of thunderstorms for the past few days.  It's still warm, and very humid, but the rain is welcome.  Just as I was rolling up the hose, the sun began to lower behind the mountains.  The rays of light were beautiful, shooting toward the valley.


Because I adore my telephoto, I couldn't resist this shot, to the far right of the rays.  You can see the forest trees, outlined against the layers of golden light.


After walking the boys this morning, I mowed the lawn, did the laundry and vacuumed, then ran a bunch of errands down the mountain.  I guess that means I'm almost ready to rejoin humanity.  Almost.  I just have one more really good book calling my name, and I'm not capable of resisting the lure of escape...

************************************

Just as I was finishing this post, I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.  I grabbed my camera, but as fast as I was, I barely caught the twins.  They were cavorting and jumping--too fast for a photo--then off they ran to Mama, who was behind the juniper shrubs.  I get cranky when the deer eat my landscape, then forget all about that when the fawns come around.  I blame it on Walt Disney.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Magpie Tales 173...Afloat

The Promenade, 1918, by Marc Chagall 
 
 
Hands clasped tight in love
Joy filled her like helium
Promise kissed the air
 
 
 
 
************************
 
Magpie Tales 173...I haven't done a prompt for several weeks--not sure why.  This painting made me think of that wonderful euphoria of being in love, and since I haven't done a haiku for ages either...
 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fathers



To all the wonderful, funny, sweet, loving, protective, caring, nurturing and decent men out there, just like my very own Dad:
Happy Father's Day


Miss you, Pops...

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Week 24 of the 52s...Into The Wild

I've been (im)patiently waiting for my bookplates to show up from BookCrossing, and at last, they arrived in the post.

Twelve stickers, each with their own number, place of origin and other bits of info.  They look cool, and I'm really pleased with my photo...





Here's a close-up.  Can you read the tiny print down by the traveling book icon?  In case it doesn't show up if you've clicked on the photo:  the karma of literature - free and anonymous

This whole concept just speaks to me on so many levels.  Anything that encourages reading, broadens the mind, allows the imagination to soar, is a great thing.

It's been fun to design my own plates, choose a book, ponder where to set it free, participate in such a cool experience.



 

I have a difficult time letting go of books, though with the volume of reading I do, if I held onto every book that has filled my mind, I could overwhelm a coliseum.  What I'm saying is:  I still have a multitude of titles to pick from.

I wandered from bookcase to bookcase, pulling one out, putting it back, moving to the next.  At one point in the process, I had a thought: because of where I live--very small town in the middle of nowhere--would it make a difference in someone actually reading my book, or tossing it in the bin?  I can think of dozens of places in Edinburgh to leave a book and never have that thought cross my mind; I know the book would be read.  Does that mean I should chose a book based on the people who inhabit my current geography?

But no.  I decided to take the risk.  Besides the joy of sending a book out into the world, there's also the whole point inherent in the 52s: stepping out, taking those risks, doing something different and hopefully fun.

With that in mind, I chose this book, for two reasons:  First, the cover was designed to look old, well-read, a travelin' kind of book; and, it's a novel that is..."ultimately a love letter to literature, intended for readers as passionate about storytelling as its young hero."**
 
It was a great book, perhaps one that wouldn't have been chosen by the person who ultimately finds it...  


Course, I'm still struggling a bit with where to release it.  If the place is too local, I doubt it will go anywhere except perhaps in the garbage; too secluded and it's lost.  I do have an idea or two, so in the morning I'll pick one and hope for serendipity.

This was an interesting thing to do for my Week.  It was fun to chose a book, to officially belong to the global BookCrossing club--though I should probably work on my "fly, be free" mentality.

And maybe I should plan a vacation so I can get into a more populated environment.  After all, I have eleven more stickers and {gulp} books to send out into the world...


*******************

**Editor's Choice, Entertainment Weekly

Thursday, June 13, 2013

It's Always Something...

The weather cooled off a bit on Tuesday, which gave me the chance to catch up on things I can't/won't do in the blistering heat. 

One of those things was buying a new lawnmower before I lost the boys in the urban jungle of the backyard.  Because the lawn isn't very big, and I like to consider my carbon footprint is equally as small, I mow with an old-fashioned push mower.  Not only do I like the exercise, but it's quiet and efficient.  Of course, after I lug the box home, I still have to assemble the machine, though that didn't take long.  The new mower is wider, very sharp, and I had the lawn done in mere minutes.  What a wonderful tool, and I didn't even work up a sweat.  

[There was a time when a new pair of shoes, or a great Italian purse would have made my heart go pitter-patter.  Nowadays it's a shiny new lawnmower.  Where did I go wrong?]

*********************************************

Wednesday morning--4:00am to be precise--Ozzy got weirdly frantic to go outside.  I'm not happy about this as I had stayed up until nearly 2:00am to finish this really good book.  Still, if a guy's gotta go...  I drag myself out of bed, open the back door, then flop back into bed to wait for him to come back inside when he's finished.  I wait.  And wait.  And wait some more.  Finally, I get up, go the back door and quietly hiss his name.  No response.  I go out onto the deck, barefoot and in my scanty sleepwear (men's boxers and a tank top) and hiss again.  Nothing.

Cursing, I come inside, throw on my hoody, jam my feet into flip flops, grab a flashlight and go back out.  I canvas the back, the front, then in case he's slipped past me, I go through the entire house.  Nada.

I begin to panic.  Where could he be?  I'm standing on the deck just outside the back door when I hear this odd rustling noise beneath my feet.  WTF is he doing under the deck?  There's no way I can reach him--he's in a place where only an 8-lb dog or a wild animal can maneuver.  I go to the opposite end of the deck where you can crawl under to access the house.


Picture this black hole in the dead of night.  My flashlight, one of those Eveready beacon-type things, barely penetrates the scary dark netherworld beneath the deck.  I do not want to crawl under there.  There are bugs and spiders and...things. 

I kneel down, call Ozzy, then get on my stomach and wiggle under a couple of feet, waving the flashlight like a light saber.  Finally I catch the glint of two little eyes.



Coaxing and cajoling, I finally get the little bastard moron out from under the bloody deck.  I have no idea why he's gone under there, why he wouldn't come out, or what the flaming hell he's doing.  I just know I had two hours sleep and had to slither under the deck in the pitch dark when I wouldn't even do it in broad daylight.

Back inside, Ozzy goes to his bed, I toss my clothes into the hamper and get out clean ones. I haven't turned on any lights; between my night vision and knowing my way around the bedroom blindfolded, all I'm trying to do is get my foot into the damned leg of another pair of boxers so I can get back to sleep.  I stagger, I flail, I think the edge of the bed is further away than it is...


I slammed into that corner right at mid-calf. It felt liked I'd been shot with a spear gun. Later in the day when my leg was aching, I looked at the bruise, and wow, it's truly, brutally impressive. So, I somehow survive the dark perils of crawling beneath the deck, then nuke myself in my own bedroom. Figures.

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Yesterday I had planned to get an early start on the next installment of the serial, but when I pulled into the driveway after taking the dogs down the valley for their walk, something looked...funny in the front garden. I let the dogs out of the car, then went to see what was amiss.

Those frigging blasted deer. Between leaving and returning--about an hour--they ate their way through my two new shrubs (the deer resistant ones), half the dogwood tree and most of the daylily greens that line the walkway. All they left behind were sticks and twigs. Visions of venison steaks wafted through my head.

So. Rather than have a nice cuppa and settle at the computer to write, I spent the better part of the morning and early afternoon trying to salvage my front yard, then spraying the disgusting deer repellent everywhere, including on myself when the breeze shifted. And hey, there's just nothing like the lovely stench of coyote pee to make a girl feel special.

Once I was finished, had another shower and threw all my clothes into the washing machine, I had to have a long talk with my deer hound. Apparently, my boy has been shirking his duties.

 
 
Ozzy spends most of his day on full alert at the front windows. He always warns me with a low growl when the deer enter the yard, which allows me to shoo them across the road and down the ridge before they decimate my plants. It seems they have figured out that if they wait until I drive away, they can have an undisturbed meal at the All You Can Eat Buffet.

***********************************************
 
A really good thing:  This morning Max got his stitches removed, and got a clean bill of health from the vet. His missing toe doesn't actually look...missing. His foot looks a bit narrower, but honestly, you can't even tell he doesn't have all his toes. I'm sure that after several weeks of hopping and limping, it must feel wonderful to just walk.

I know I'd like to walk. Right into a nice, long vacation where there are no deer or scary dark places or corners of doom to reach out and maim a person. I'm gonna have to work on that...
 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Joyland

I pretty much took the day off yesterday, not only because it was Sunday and I like to kick back, but also because it was somewhere in the 90s, bizarrely humid and I could barely manage to make my lungs work, let alone walk or talk.
 
A perfect excuse then for a good book, some snacks and an ice cold Dos Equis to get myself through the day.
 
Grocery shopping earlier in the week, I saw Stephen King's new book, Joyland, on display at the checkout counter.  He's one of my favorite writers, not that I'm into horror or scary things, but because he can write a sentence, a paragraph, a story like nobody else.  That's not to say I've liked all his books.  I haven't.  And frankly I prefer his older work to some of the newer, especially the stuff after his near-death accident.
 


Joyland is old Stephen King.  Sucked me in immediately, I couldn't stop reading, and was completely mesmerized by the story.
 
I don't usually write book reviews; reading is so subjective and personal, and we all have our own opinions and preferences. 

So, this post isn't exactly a review but more a quick description of the story (from the back cover), and a few quotes from the book that just added to my ongoing love affair for a writer at the top of his game.
 





Blurb:
 
College student Devin Jones took the summer job at Joyland [an amusement park, 1973], hoping to forget the girl who broke his heart.  But he wound up facing something far more terrible: the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and dark truths about life--and what comes after--that would change his world forever.  Joyland is at once a mystery, a horror story, and a bittersweet coming-of-age novel...
 
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A few bits from Devin:
 
"When you're twenty-one, life is a roadmap.  It's only when you get to be twenty-five or so that you begin to suspect you've been looking at the map upside down, and not until you're forty are you entirely sure.  By the time you're sixty, take it from me, you're fucking lost."
 
"When it comes to the past, everyone writes fiction."
 
"Nothing screws with memory like repetition."
 
"I remembered something my mother used to say. 'The devil can quote scripture.'"
 
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Even out of context, can you feel his words, how they effortlessly draw you in?  I honestly don't think there's anyone writing today who can tell the story of a boy's--or a young man's--coming-of-age quite like Stephen King. 
 
I love this writer...and I really loved this book.
 


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Birdbrained

Through the mirror this morning whilst brushing my teeth, I happened to catch the perfect angle of light and shadow from the large window that overlooks the back deck.

I'm (sort of) used to the random kamikaze dive of the birds when they mistake the reflections of sky and trees for real life, but after I hung my prayer flags across the window in the bathroom, I thought I had eliminated the problem altogether.  At least I haven't had to dispose of any corpses recently.

Can you see them?  I count four ghost birds.  Four.  I can see one as a random event, but four?  How many birds does it take before the word gets passed along?  Apparently more than I would have thought.

Check out the middle one at the bottom.  With that wingspan it wasn't a small bird and yet it still flew beneath the flags and smack into the frigging window!  If you click on the photo, you can see not only the wings and body, but the tail.  That is a bird in full flight.  Can you imagine what a shock that must have been?  Soaring into the wild blue yonder...then SPLAT.  Oh man, what a headache.


Thankfully, as I said, there were no bodies heaped in carnage on the deck, though I think it's safe to say there's at least four birds out in the world with serious issues.  Gives a whole new meaning to the word birdbrained, doesn't it?
 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Week 23 of the 52s...Saturday Market

I got up early this morning in the hope that I could walk the boys and go the Saturday Market before it got too hot.  When I opened the blinds I was thrilled to see clouds and feel the cooler air.  Maybe a break in the weather is coming.

Down the mountain, meander on back roads to avoid the weekend tourist traffic, cross the river, and at last get to the quiet VA complex.  I'm still doing the shorter hikes because of Max and The Toe, but we were only about 15 minutes into the walk when the clouds suddenly dissipated and the temp began to rise.  Damn.  The Saturday Market is down the highway on the same side of the river where I am currently beginning to sweat in the instant humidity.  Double damn.  No question I will have to take the dogs home now, then retrace my route.  

And a good thing I did.  By the time I'd driven down, up, and back down again, then found the Market, it was blistering hot...at 10:30 in the morning.

I wasn't sure what to expect since I haven't been to the Market before.  I sort of pictured a flea market affair, and maybe a table or two of wilted veggies.  Shows what I know.  When folks have mentioned this Saturday event to me, they have always called it the Saturday Market.  Turns out, it's really called...

The Farmer's Market:


There were many tents/booths, with beautiful vegetables, fruits, artisan breads, crafts, plants and flowers. 



The Community Garden had a wonderful tent--actually two tents--with an incredible selection of organic veggies.  And I love what they call themselves.  Can't you just imagine the meeting where all the gardeners got together and came up with that name?


As I was strolling into a jewelry tent, the woman working there asked if she could see my ring.  (It's funny how I think I cruise through life under the radar when in fact I totally don't).  

I'm very much into natural gemstones and have been for years; most of my jewelry is some kind of stone, including my gorgeous purple Charoite ring she's interested in.  We talk gemstones for a bit, then her husband joins in and we have a pleasant few minutes chatting about their travels to Australia over the Winter and the gems they collected.  She cleans, polishes and determines what the stones will become, and he makes her ideas into jewelry.

My new Moukite earrings.  Australian Jasper.  The deep hue of kidney beans.  Four months ago they were small stones, laying in the red dust of the Australian Outback.  Now they dangle from my ears thousands of miles away.  How cool is that?

 
This stunning quilt caught my eye from two aisles away.  I could see it through the tents and though I resisted the urge to deviate from my up-one-aisle-down-the-next, I couldn't wait to see this beauty up close.  It was absolutely amazing.  150 different strips of fabric, perfect quilting, brilliant sense of color.

First Prize in the regional quilt show, 2012.
















And, if that wasn't enough, she also won Second Prize with this one at the same show!  The quilter told me she was the first person in all the years of the quilt competition to win both top prizes.  No wonder.  And the funny thing was, she was just using the quilts as decoration for her booth!  They weren't part of her merchandise, or even for sale.


Oh, these were beautiful.  They just gleamed in the sun like rubies.  I had to ask the farm woman about those smaller, pale ones though.  She told me they're the real pie cherries.  Very tart, so when sugar is added in the cooking, you get the perfect pie.  Who knew?  Actually, I don't like cherry pie, though I do love biting into a juicy one, just picked off the tree this morning, like these...


The place was getting mobbed by this time, and the heat was brain warping.  I stopped at the high school pottery tent but couldn't get a good photograph with all the kids and people milling about.  When I managed to get to the table, I was so impressed with the work on display, and amazed to hear the school has three kilns and an exceedingly talented bunch of young potters.  The two kids manning the booth were so sweet and friendly, I just had to buy something to support the students.

My pottery, made by West, who is a senior at the high school and very cool...according to the two kids.  Thanks, West...it's a wonderful piece of work.


My last stop, just as I was getting lightheaded from the heat rising in thick waves from the asphalt, was at the Village Baker tent.  I just can't resist a great loaf of bread.  They had several unique blends, but my all natural, vegan, yeast free, Cranberry/Apricot was irresistible.  When I got home, I cut two slices, toasted them and called it lunch.  The first bite is tart like cranberries, then as I chewed, it mellowed into a sweet apricot flavor.  The texture is dense, though somehow light at the same time.  This could possibly be the best artisan bread I've ever had...seriously.


So, Week 23 of the 52s has been a great success.  I have delicious bread, a new piece of art, a bit of the Outback bobbing against my cheeks, and another new experience under my belt.

Now, if I can just avoid heat stroke...