June 30, 2011

Spring's Toll

Spring in these parts has been... well, to say "atypical" is to be nice about it. "Worst spring ever" is a more common description. Cooler than normal. Wetter than usual. Snow pack is something like 39,000% of normal.

Some of this I haven't really objected to, much. Yes, I've been a bit cranky that we still can't reliably picnic on Wednesdays, but, as a person whose brain shuts off when it gets hot, I can't say that the temperatures that only sometimes make it to 70 degrees have really bothered me. It's been nice not really thinking much about watering the garden (our water bill is up these days since Caitlyn, it seems, can either turn the water all the way on or all the way off, and either washes her hands with As Much Water As Possible or doesn't at all). The spinach was it's usual straggly self, but it took forever to really bolt, and I didn't have to compost any of it due to absent-mindedly forgetting to include it in dinner. The peas are fantastically happy, having grown taller this year than ever before.

The garlic, on the other hand, is not happy.

garlic rust

The prolonged damp and cool temperatures have brought me garlic rust. Little rust blotches of fungus on all my garlic. I pulled the plants that looked the worst, about half of what's in the plot, and fortunately, I don't think I've got it quite as bad as some. While another month would have allowed the garlic to bulb-up nicely, at least I have garlic bulbs that were still really firmly rooted.

garlic crop, part one, 2011

I'll go get the rest of the plants on Saturday and hope that our local weather wizard is correct when he says we'll switch over into normal, summer weather next week. With any luck, I'll be able to salvage the bulk of the crop and save the onions planted nearby. I'll have to skip growing garlic for a couple of years to be sure it's not in the soil, possibly onions, too. Maybe the newly available space will lend itself to more squashes or melons. Yeah, you're right; I'm probably dreaming with that last one.

In other, happier garden news:

My foxgloves are blooming!

June 25, 2011

Documentary film participant releases are kind of unsettling things to sign. Since it's the nature of documentary film-making to not entirely know what you are going to capture on film (reality being somewhat unpredictable, generally), the releases are very broad. You sign away your right to whatever the crew captures and agree to let them do whatever they want with it.

I've signed releases for both Caitlyn and myself twice in the last month. One was for a documentary about urban agriculture, Growing Cities. A small crew came to our P-Patch during a work party to talk with the gardeners and film us at work. Caitlyn was there, helping push the top of the wood chip pile down toward the wheelbarrows. The other was for Beyond Naked, a documentary about the naked bicyclists that precede the Fremont Solstice Parade. The crew filmed Caitlyn while she worked on a chalk drawing; they've got footage of me attempting (and probably failing) to eloquently explain why I'm ok bringing my daughter to an event where we all know that a good-sized percentage of the spectacle will be comprised of people who have nothing on underneath their body paint.

I am actively choosing to trust that these people are all who they say they are, that they are Good People. That they will use their footage as they verbally said they would. Because I don't want to be the kind of person who sees a threat to me and my child behind every rock, shrub, camera or stranger.

June 21, 2011

Someone is Six

chocolate cupcakes with peppermint frosting
For the third year in a row, when I asked Caitlyn what kind of birthday cake she wanted, she requested peppermint. Last year, I talked her into chocolate cake with peppermint frosting, so this year it was an short step from one to the other. Peppermint cake is a little weird, all on it's own. And, of course, I made too many cupcakes. I don't suppose it would be a party if I didn't make too much food.

confetti eggs
Or too many confetti eggs. There are about seven dozen here, and the kids smashed every single one.

bean bags
And when they were out of eggs to smash, they threw these around. I'd made them for a variation on Musical Chairs (we don't have that many chairs, and given the rate at which we've been sitting through them, I don't think the ones we still have would have survived the party), which the kids all humored me by playing once. The bean bags doubled as the "goody bag" (All the kids expected a goody bag and chorused their requests as soon as present opening was complete. I'm horrified, both by the expectation and by the practice, although the latter may be more a factor of my dislike of the candy and cheap plastic crap which often arrives home via "goody bag".) and everyone got to pick one to take home.

all in a circle
They arranged themselves in this circle. A year of kindergarten has tangible results!

blowing out the candle
We used a tea light for a birthday candle since I couldn't find the actual birthday candles. And we only used the one because the wind suddenly picked up and I couldn't keep more than one lit.

And now she is six. Exuberant, dramatic, adventuresome, creative, exasperating, affectionate. My girl, who wants to be barefoot as much as possible and would wear her fairy wings everywhere if she could, who tells stories constantly and can't stay still ever. Who shines so very brightly.

June 18, 2011

Solstice in Fremont, 2011

I left the sunscreen at home this morning, since it was abundantly obvious that no one would be getting sunburned at the Fremont Solstice Parade today. It's been one of the worst springs on record, and today, three days from the first day of summer, was rainy and cold. Actual puddles and everything.

We went anyway, of course. At this point, it's a tradition to go, partly to mark the beginning of summer and the slow shifting back to the dark time of year, but also as part of Caitlyn's birthday season. She's older now and knows the parade doesn't have anything to do with her birthday, but there was a while when she was sure it was all for her.

We arrive early, get good spots right up front, meet up with friends, have a picnic brunch: cheese and crackers, giant strawberries, sometimes bacon, orange juice with benefits, and a whole lot of muffins. I counted 72 muffins when we packed up this morning, which is officially Too Many. Next year, the upper limit will be 50, something someone is going to need to remind me of when the time comes, since I apparently can not be trusted to identify a Reasonable Quantity Of Muffins. I did slightly better with the confetti eggs, although it may only feel that way because they don't weigh all that much when you are bringing the leftovers home again. There is, after all, a limited window of time for truly excellent confetti egg action, between the time they close the road and the time the bicyclists arrive.

June 16, 2011

Thrift Store Experiments

After reading a number of posts (none of which I can find right now) about taking adult sized clothes acquired at a thrift store and transforming them into kid-size clothes, I thought I'd give it a try.

This is a big step for me since I have never been a thrift-store shopper. In my experience, thrift stores tend to be all jumbled, making the process of finding something kind of like a scavenger hunt, only without the list of Things To Find. I guess some people carry that around in their head; I don't. Maybe it's because finding off-the-rack things that fit me well has never been easy, but I don't like the Hide-n-Seek approach to shopping. I can't just Go Shopping and expect that I'm going to stumble upon some Awesome Thing That I Must Have; it's far more reasonable to expect that I'll spend a day shopping and come home empty-handed and frustrated. Which works out well if I'm trying to spend less money or buy less stuff, but not so much when I'm down to one last pair of jeans without holes or patches.

Anyway. Since this wasn't going to be about clothes shopping for me, I figured it would kind of be like shopping for fabric. That's really what I was interested in, after all, the stuff that the thrift store clothes were made out of and whether there would be enough to make something for Caitlyn.

Here's what I know so far:
  • extra, extra, extra large clothes are not really any longer than regular clothes, just wider; to make the dress I had in mind, I would have needed two extremely large shirts, at which point I'm not really saving any money.
  • I'm not the kind of person who instinctively knows what to do to an item of clothing to make it cute and adorable, though since I hardly accessorize for myself I suppose this isn't really a surprise
  • mass produced, low price clothes are just as poorly made as I thought they were. The enormous shirt I bought as fabric wasn't cut on the grain originally, which would make it hang oddly if it were to be worn as it was instead of being re-purposed into something else. I was able to straighten the grain when I cut my pieces, but I wasn't able to use the existing shirt hem for the hem of my own project. Rather disappointing, since the part of point of this was to use as many of the existing features as I could.

I'm not quite done with the re-purposed shirt project, but I'm not sure this is something I'm going to come back to again. Perhaps if I had the Finding Awesome Stuff at Screaming Great Deals gene, it might feel as if transforming large, cheap adult clothes into kid clothes was a way of getting away with something. Gaming the system or something. "Look! I made this cute thing for my kid, and I did it for the $3 I spent on an extra-large t-shirt! Shirts like this are at least $9 at the department store, on sale, and the fabric would have been $10/yard!" As it is, I don't have that gene, the large shirt was $6, and the challenge of working with a lopsided grain and insufficient length has me thinking that I'm not coming out ahead on this one.

Have I missed some important detail that would have made this work for me? Is it ok to just carry on the way I always have or should I try to "beat the system" again?

June 14, 2011

Over the Weekend

Not so long ago, I didn't see a whole lot of difference between weekdays and weekends. Both seemed equally frantic with Responsibilities and Things to Do. These days, we're trying to more consciously observe the downtime.

Caitlyn climbs

Or the uptime, as the case may be.

This is one of the challenges with working from home, I guess. The office is right there, and it's so easy to stop at the computer "for a moment" to just take care of "one thing." Though, to be honest with myself, it's not only that, since I tend to get equally distracted and panicked by making sure we all have clothes that aren't about to fall apart. There's also the memory of when weekends were for all the chores that didn't get done over the week. The weekend becomes this crazy two days of Getting It Taken Care Of, instead of a time of connecting with and celebrating the people around us.

So, I'm trying to lie under more trees and watch the leaves against the sky. To really see what Caitlyn's trying to show me. To eat the occasional popsicle. To bake frivolous things and share them with friends. To see the flowers as I go by.

yellow flowers

wild iris


June 10, 2011


Rachel over at PS I Quilt has launched another quilt along, and I'm not able to join in the fun. Frowny face.

There's a lot going on between now and the end of the month. Though a new quilt along would be fun, I'm not going to finish Caitlyn's birthday present on time as it is. Not to mention that the last quilt along top still isn't done yet.

Oh, and Quilt Dad just announced his participation in another quilt along. This one is appealing for it's traditional/sampler style. I admire all these modern quilts in modern fabrics, but sometimes I like to revel in the old-fashioned-ness of quilting.

Not that I'm about to take up hand-piecing quilt tops, or give up my rotary cutter. I can't have the quilts taking any longer than they already do - I'd never finish anything!