Sunday, December 14, 2014

December Update

It's been far too long since I've posted. I'm mulling resolutions for 2015 these days and "more blogging" is on the list. Again. I'm thinking of rechristening them goals, or at least attaching more concrete outcomes to the list this year. So, "more blogging" will probably become "blog at least once a month" which is the minimum output I'd prefer - don't know about your preferences, but then it's not really about you, is it? :)

Part of why I haven't blogged is because life's adventures have been modest of late. Luckily, work has mellowed to normal levels of stress from the freakishly high they were for a month or so since that also makes it hard to post.

The front yard project is coming along well. M has been working very hard removing the top six inches or so of soil, replacing it with good dirt, and pouring concrete pavers. I've been offering helpful design advice and assisting with the plants. It will still take a year or two for all of the new ground covers (elfin and creeping thyme, sedum, and dymondia mostly) to get established and spread to every nook and cranny of the yard, but even with just the new soil replacing the dead "lawn" it looks much better.

I'm not much of a Halloween celebrator, but our Accounting Department makes a big deal of it every year. I suggested they let the whole office know the theme this year so we could all join in. I hope you can tell the theme they chose from the photo below, taken with my friends Monique and Mace. Monique and I walked to the nearby grocery store to pick up lunch in our Old West attire, and it was kinda fun being out and about in dress-up getup.

M and I took a motorcycle ride to a place we'd tried to see before but were turned back because of fire: The Geysers. We weren't allowed very close to the plant, but there are tours a few times a year. It was a little unnerving seeing a whole valley threaded with pipes and steam rising from a couple of buildings. Apparently tapping the steam has increased the number of earthquakes in the area. It was a lovely ride through a very remote area.

Thanksgiving was a fine holiday. I took two additional days off of work, and that was great. I went up early to Mom's and got some extra relaxation in. Arienne, Christin, and Scott came up with M the next day, as did JeriLu and having a few more family members made it extra festive. The food was great of course. Booze flowed freely.

We played games in the evening, which was a fun change - Cards Against Humanity - once in between hands of 31 - and Pictionary! Team Women won against Team Men. We worked on a puzzle. The weather was clear at first then got a little wet, but we were able to squeeze in a walk on the Stornetta Public Lands.

With Mom at Starcross
 Arienne, Christin, and Scott had to leave on Saturday; M and I stayed til Sunday. Mom and I did some holiday shopping at Starcross, a monastic community in Annapolis, at the Gualala Arts Festival of the Trees. We stopped off at the Sea Ranch Chapel, a particularly lovely little building that I'd never actually been to before, though have passed probably a gazillion (at least!) times in my travels up and down the coast lo these many years. Here's the Flickr album for Thanksgiving.

We finally got some rain! The mushrooms have gone mad this year. We also had a storm last Thursday. The various authorities were really hyping it, so most people were prepared. Unfortunately, the city did not clean out the culvert at the end of our street, so the water flooded the gutters and washed away much of M's hard work on the front part of our yard. It's mostly just a matter of getting more soil, but a frustrating setback in time and a little money.

Of course, it could have been much worse. On the bright side, we're happy with how the yard is coming along generally. There's a lot of planting left to do, and now we're a little worried about timing. We want to get in as much as we can when it's cool and rainy, but we don't want to have more wash away, either. Given the drought, we didn't anticipate that that would be a problem!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Since My Last Post

"Since My Last Post" should be the title of every post from now on, eh? Reflecting on the recent past always makes me happy. This last unit of history included:

A visit from Aunt Janice and a rendezvous at Mom and Don's. It was great to see her especially since the occasion became a partial family reunion of sorts with the Chico Axtells coming over too. We ate well, we walked the Stornetta Public Land bluffs, we played cards. The weather was unusually fine - I actually got sunburned on the walk. More photos in the Flickr album.

It seems so long ago now, but just a few weeks ago I was in Phoenix for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing event. It was really wonderful to be at at a technical event that was almost all women, the very opposite of what I'm used to. I was in the room when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made his most unfortunate remarks about women not needing to ask for raises since karma will out, apparently. That took the happy edge off a bit. Unfortunately I was quartered an urban wasteland and worked a lot of long, intense days so didn't have time to see the city at all, but I was so glad I went. I met and reconnected with a lot of great people.

I had a weekend at home after the Arizona journey then was off to New York for my last conference of the year, yippee. I had less time in New York this time and the conference was exhausting, but I think I made the most of it. I journeyed down to my old neighborhood one night, dining at Lucien then walking up 2nd Avenue to Union Square, which was filled with folk - I imagined the ancient agoras of Athens must have similarly hosted throngs sitting, eating, playing chess, taking the evening air. On another night I shopped at Fishs Eddy before having pizza at Eataly. I had my traditional dinner with Cathleen on Friday, my last night, at etcetc.

Opera students in the 42nd Street Subway

The next morning, I arose, packed, checked out of the hotel then sallied forth. After the successful one-hour visit to MOMA last month, I tried it again at the Metropolitan. It was a very worthwhile whirlwind tour. Though there was a long line to get in, it moved swiftly and I was the only person in several of the rooms, including a kimono exhibit. I visited the Temple of Dendur which is always inspiring, and finished with a tapestry exhibit which I had low expectations for but the sheer enormous scale of the tapestries and number was transformative. How often are you surrounded with a huge hall of them, allowing you to come eye to eye with beautifully woven representations of equine scrota, blood coursing from a recently beheaded neck, vistas of ancient Jericho, the serpent in Eden, and of course God?

After the Met I subwayed downtown to Union Square where I felt produce envy at the farmers market which has only gotten larger and more wonderful in the 16 years since I lived nearby. I walked uptown and around Gramercy Park to meet the Caiola Madhu clan for a delightful south Indian lunch at Saravana. We shopped at Kalustyan's, and then we all took the 6 train uptown. I picked up my bags at the hotel and met the car to JFK and home. More photos in the Flickr album.

It was a relief to return, though work continues to be quite stressful.

M has been taking on even more homekeeping projects. I'm really enjoying his wine-bottles-to-glasses craft and we're (the royal we - he's doing all the work) finally replacing the front lawn sections with ground cover plants and stepping stones.

Even with the cone of shame for a skin allergy, Rex is able to adequately supervise the work.

Dad was here from Texas for a few days, and it was great to see him. It was a good occasion to have Felicia and Erin over too. We had a lovely time reviewing all of the photos Ginny posted from their Morocco trip - made me want to go! I took Friday afternoon off and we went thrift shopping at Lytton Springs on our way up to Coppola for a wine tasting and vista enjoyment. He left for Chico this morning, but we had time for a nice breakfast with Felicia.

Tomorrow I'm meeting Rachel for lunch and then we're going to a clothing swap at a friend's place. Nothing like free clothes to lift the spirits!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Happy Blog-iversary to Me

Ten years ago today I started blogging. Ten! Doesn't time fly? Fly!

I've been meaning to blog for some time and am glad this occasion finally compels me. I have no excuses other than work being stressful, some travel, and generally finding life rolling away the way that it does. Faithful readers, thank you for being here, still.

Since my last post:

Motorcycle rides through the desiccated countryside. A classic car show in Napa the weekend before the big earthquake. Undertaking some long overdue home keeping projects. The county fair.

Learning to meditate. A trip up the coast for the opening of Mom's show. So nice that again Mark and the kids were there.

We recently returned from a trip to New York. Business venn diagrammed by birthday, so M came with me. There were many highlights: several occasions to visit with the Manhattan Madhus, Book of Mormon, a service at the NY Center for Spiritual Living, a sail around the confluence of the East and Hudson rivers, a stay at the storied Algonquin, an unexpected an serendiptious lunch with Ginny and Laura, and a quick but lovely visit to the MOMA.  I took notes during the trip and would like to share more, but given my lack of posts recently, I'm feeling pessimistic.

More travel, more stressful work, more family visits that make life so worthwhile all coming up soon, so I have a lot to look forward to! Oh, and more attempts to meditate.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

The Fourth Was with Us. And Beyond

We went up to Mom and Don's over the 4th. Mark and the kids were there, as was JeriLu according to tradition - we celebrated her 70th birthday. We packed a lot into the three days..

We went up to Don's property up on the hill hoping to rescue a homemade Big Green Egg style cooker but unfortunately it was a little too primitive. We met the horses that are staying in the orchard. The palomino took quite an interest in Rex, who of course nipped at him. The horse didn't like that much and started chasing Rex, which freaked me out - I thought I was going to see him trampled so I tried to distract the horse, which in retrospect was not a very smart thing to do. Rex finally headed back to the gate with his tail between his legs, all disasters averted.

I took Ry and My into town to see Grandma at the gallery, and wander up and down Main Street one afternoon.

A few weeks before our visit, the barn at The Village burned down. That made me a little sad. So many memories! Katrin and family were also up for the 4th, so I met her, Peter, Leslie, Ruby, and Theo at The Village to see what was left, but it was just a patch of scorched earth by the time we got there. We walked up to Peter's cabin, then down to the river. It was a good visit, despite the feeling of loss over the barn.

No barn

We all headed out to the bluffs to watch the fireworks. We were worried about fog, but it was beautiful weather. Not too cold or windy and though the fog started lowering a bit, it ended up being more ethereal than obscuring, especially when the smoke from the ignition point on the wharf framed the lower part of our view.


I wrote a poem for Grandma a couple of weekends ago:

You get used to telling someone
I love you
when they can read it,
hear it.
Can words still echo in a heart or ear
whose chambers have collapsed?

If the ashes of my love rise
to you in heaven
will you taste the fiery spark?
I don't think so, though I want to.
So much love has gone unsensed.
Does it collect in a pool,
like a quarry with no outlet,
a liquid darkness descending forever?

If I bathed in said pool would I
be washed clean of the despair
of not knowing where my love for you flies?
Please don't let it be wasted on air or
seep away between the quarry stones or
be that small blue egg (your favorite color
the shade of heaven)
that was yarded out of the juniper bush in mischief
and dashed to the driveway,
tender yolk and fragile oval shell exploded open
for nothing
for nothing

please don't let I love you be
for nothing.


July brought the annual excursion to Portland. (M spent that week with Mom and Don and apparently Rex pointedly did not go into the orchard with the horses on their visits to the hill property.)

I had only one night with Lloyd and Jacque, but we made the most of it. Heather came down with a friend, Michelle and her boys and Jim and Enid all came over for dinner. I really appreciate how they all come together for my visit. Before bed, I went through a number photo albums that Lloyd had brought back from Grandma's, and took a fine stack of prints, some that I hadn't seen in quite some time. Lloyd, Jacque, Heather, her friend and I had a lovely breakfast at Bread & Ink the next morning, then they dropped me at the hotel for my work day to begin.

Thanks so Uncle Lloyd for snapping this one!

The conference went well. It's our longest one, six days including set-up. I paced myself, which meant I didn't get out much, but had fun at some of the conference parties. 

Goofing around with Monique
Trying to look suave with Sharon. The mustache was a great way to get noticed!

I did have one nice meal at Ned Ludd, followed by a long and pleasant postprandial walk back to the hotel through the lushly planted neighborhood. 

So, so many people wishing for so, so many things
The conference ended after lunch on Thursday, so I took the streetcar and spent some time downtown, taking in the Portland Art Museum for about 45 minutes, which wasn't enough of course, but I did enjoy it, particularly the first peoples artifacts and the large red Christmas-tree-shaped pile of Chihuly glass. I shopped my way (the museum store, Crafty WonderlandCanoePowellsKnit PurlBuffalo Exchange) to Andina for dinner with friends from work. Writing all that, I see I probably could have spent more time in the museum after all, but I wasn't sure how long it would take me to walk over to the restaurant. Visiting the museum and seeing all of the art throughout the city (for instance, the bathrooms at the convention center have some really lovely art in them) reminded me that I've let my Art Imitates Life photo project lapse a bit too long.

It was nice to come home after so long away. 

M and I have had nice weekends, last weekend sitting on the beach for a few hours. This one he's spending fixing one of the side-yard fences. I really appreciate that he knows how to do home-keeping stuff like that!