If you read or see something that resonates with you, 
please leave a comment! I'd love to hear from you!


Devouring a wonderful new book

"How did supermarket vegetables lose their palatability, with so many people right there watching? The Case of the Murdered Flavor was a contract killing, as it turns out, and long-distance travel lies at the heart of the plot. The odd notion of transporting fragile produce dates back to the early twentieth century when a few entrepreneurs tried shipping lettuce and artichokes, iced down in boxcars, from California eastward over the mountains as a midwinter novelty. Some wealthy folks were charmed by the idea of serving out-of-season (and absurdly expensive) produce items to their dinner guests. It remained little more than an expensive party trick until mid-century, when most fruits and vegetables consumed in North America were still being produced on nearby farms....Then fashion and marketing got involved...In just a few decades, the out-of-season vegetable moved from novelty status to such an ordinary item, most North Americans now don't know what out-of-season means."
-from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (p.48)

My goal of going green gradually has changed my way of looking at so many different things, including my househole chores, the food I eat, the hobbies I play in, and the books I read. I finally picked up my copy of this great book by one of my favorite authors (I've read all of her fiction, but this is my first time reading her non-fiction) at the Portland, Oregon Saturday farmer's market. This is really changing my thinking, probably for good. I've long lamented to my husband about the lack of taste in certain fruits and veggies bought from conventional markets, and I'm learning why that is...and why those fruit that are picked well before they are ripe never seem to ripen well, and how 98% of the seeds for our food supply comes from just 6 companies (eesh!), and lots of other super interesting things...this book is chockful of goodness!

Many months ago, my husband and I decided we would like to have some acreage of our own. Not much, just enough. Enough to plant our own garden and as many fruit trees as possible. Enough to be able to learn from our mistakes and try out new things. My foray into composting this year is just the beginning, I hope, of a lifelong learning process. It is exciting to think about. I keep my ears open for hints and tips that will come in handy in the future. We will learn much more about companion plants, ideal crop rotation, and nature's best pesticide (no chemicals please! - I remember a college roommate keeping capfuls of beer near her little herb garden to keep the slugs away...) Maybe I can even learn about canning this year, as we have a nectarine tree that delivers the sweetest nectarines I've ever tasted...almost all at once. When we return to our home after this lovely little trip, we will check to see how much longer until the nectarines are ripe, and I will start planning a canning spree around subsequent summer vacation time.

My interest is especially perked as I read in this lovely book about heirlooms vegetable varieties (there is a lot more than just heirloom tomatoes) - you know how I am about all things history...well, imagine getting to taste history! It's so exciting to think about growing vegetables, living things, that are almost extinct (almost a Jurassic Park quality about it, only more natural) I'm so looking forward to one day growing some heirloom varieties of vegetables, so excited to see how they taste! I told my hubby we would definitely do that someday, but that we should probably get some practice first so we don't waste precious heirloom seeds on our learning curve...

I am so excited to be reading this book, so excited to be learning about the food we eat, about how it's not just important to eat organically, but maybe even just as important (if not more) to eat locally. I am learning about alternative possibilities, and picking up little hints, tips and tricks from neighbors, friends and other blogs.

It is so interesting and wonderful where life leads.


Gratitude in contrast

olive tree - muslin, cotton, felt & burlap fabric collage

At the moment, I am thinking of the people in Iran, struggling against their religious rulers for basic rights that I take for granted. My husband has a sister - a lovely, graceful woman with a great sense of humor - who lives there, and we have not heard from her for awhile. She is fine, I'm sure, but certainly she is worried and wondering what happens next. I also wonder what happens next, and have been considering everything I have to be grateful for.
-a roof over my head.
-abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables
-the abililty to get up in the morning and make choices about my life (my own thoughts may be the only obstacles there are to attaining any goals I set up for myself....how lucky I am for that)
-a son with a wonderful sense of humor
-moments of quiet, looking out on a tree filled with green, green leaves
-the rhythm of crocheting while listening to Selected Shorts on my ipod
-the time to allow my son to wander or play as he pleases

Old photographs

July/August 1922 - Grandma Wanda and Great Grandpa Walter in San Dimas Canyon

In cleaning out the garage, a long and arduous process, my father has been coming across things. He recently found a photo album that at first glance we thought was put together by his paternal grandmother, but I got ahold of this little artifact and found out that it was put together by my great aunt - my paternal grandmother's sister Crystal, who died at the young age of 33. The pages are black, like construction paper, and the words are written in white chalk or crayon. The photos are all of people she knew. She was a graduate of UCLA. Her family lived in Pomona, California (there are pictures of both houses they lived in along with addresses!) She went to bible study school one year. There was a horse named Dot that either the family had or neighbors had. She seemed to have quite a few friends. She looks a lot like my dad's sister - that was how I was able to identify her in pictures. She spent a lot of time in the outdoors. My grandma Wanda had two sisters, Nea and Crystal. Both of these girls died at the age of 33 - from causes I cannot remember right now - and when my Grandmother, the youngest, turned 33, her parents of course were worried that they would lose her too.

But they didn't. She lived on, was married, had two children and lived to be in her nineties and died in 1999. She was raised in Southern California and also went to UCLA. This is a picture of her as a young girl:
After I saw this the other day, my first thought was, "I wonder if this girl would have understood my sense of humor." I don't know why that popped up. I guess I got my sense of humor from my father, who says he got his sense of humor from his grandfather, the man in the picture at the top of this post, Wanda's father. I didn't know my grandma well, since I was a child most of her living years. Later on in life, she had dementia, and became childlike again. But what a wonderful memory this must have been for her. A day by the river with her family. What a great find this was! (thanks Dad!)

An Award!

A Watermelon Award? Aw shucks...Thank you Michelle (from Earthy Crafty Mommy)! Well, with that award comes responsibility, a joyful one at that, to list six things that make me happy. 
1. Listening to my son laugh in his sleep. I thought it would end when he became a little boy, but it has only become more prevalent.
2. Getting new fabric in the mail, having a plan for it, and executing those plans!
3. Old white cotton sheets. The worn but still crisp quality. The coolness of them against your skin in the summertime.
4. Reading books (fiction) while on vacation.
5. My hubby's delicious cooking. I'm so grateful I married a cook.
6. A completed collage-card scene.

And with this award comes the chance for me to pass it on! Six lovely bloggers I'd like to pass this on to are:
-Jodi at Joy Discovered. I've known this gal since high school and I love reading her blog, which I have on my sidebar under "friend's blogs" but it really should be under "Blogs for the Soul" because it is.
-Erin at Apples for Poppy Anne, who has created an immediate and well-deserved spark in the blogging world with her lovely photos, inspired writing and her weekly photo pool, It Begins With a Colour...
-Maya at Springtree Road, who is a history buff like myself, and strives to bring her surrounding historical environment into her child's life.
-Nicola at Which Name? who shares her family life with us so regularly and with such gusto!
-Vchelle at Operation You, another "Blog for the Soul" that I just discovered and am thoroughly enjoying reading.
-Krista at this inspired life who introduced me to the concept of non-violent communication and weaves this concept into her daily life and her posts.

I hope each of you pass on this lovely Watermelon Award, as it is a joyful way to pay it forward!



Sickness and transformations

blue hydrangea

I have been out of contact for what feels like days as I nurse my little one back to health. He's never had a fever so high, 104 degrees at its highest. He has come in and out of sickness over the past 2 1/2 days, going from feeling well, to tummy ache to feverish and lethargic and back to well again. How it pulls my motherstrings! I think he is on the mend now, for he hasn't had a fever since last night, and felt well enough to go for a short walk this morning. 

Vintage Vignettes is going through a bit of a transformation I will soon share with you. It is very exciting because I so love history and all the little stories individuals hold about their past and the past of those they've loved. I hope I can instill in others some of this passion I have for bygone years and treasures of the old days.

Will post again soon.



Sunday visitors

dove nest on balcony

My hubby told me once that a bird never returns to an old nest...I couldn't see why not...a perfectly good nest that is still in place would be a perfect place to go. But I'm not an expert at these things. You can imagine my surprise then, when I stepped out onto our balcony yesterday with my son, just after he woke from his nap, to find that the nest above the lamp that had been made several years ago by a pair of doves, was being inhabited again. I must have surprised the little dove, since we rarely go out there. 

We were a little afraid that she was alone, as a few days before, there was evidence of some dove trouble. Several little feathers were found under the tree near the balcony. My husband was worried - crises in the natural world bother him - as he likes to fix things, and he could do nothing if this pretty dove's mate was gone. He had been told doves mate for life, and if one dove dies, the other will die soon after or commits something of a suicide (I have no idea if this is true, this is what he was told.)

My husband went inside feeling a little down while my son and I remained outside to read on a blanket (June has been uncommonly wonderful to us weather-wise). As we sat there we finally saw Mr. Dove fly up to the wire nearby the balcony, and no sooner did he land than Mrs. Dove took off to some undisclosed location in my neighbor's yard or thereabout. Mr. Dove took off quickly, following her. A minute later I heard their sweet coos.

I went to tell my husband what I'd seen. He said, "Thank God! You don't know what a big weight has been lifted from my shoulders." He said that the male dove was bringing the female dove some food to eat, his duty during the long process of egg-sitting. I then told him that just before we came inside, we could hear them making their cooing noises. He said, "They're saying 'I love you. I missed you.' The female is saying, 'Thank you for the food.'"

What a sweet Sunday.


Quilt Gardens

Ever heard of a quilt garden?

This town has one. Or several.

A really neat idea.

Take a look at this article on a town in Indiana that has quilt gardens to bring the tourists in!


a morning's rouse

This morning, when my son wanted to be nursed back to sleep, he rolled over and called out, "Mommy!" I hear him on my monitor.

I come running, as always. "Yes - I'm here babydoll!" 

He rolls over sleepily to one side and says in a squeaky little voice, "Mommy, are you happy?" 

"I'm very happy," I say. ohmigosh. With a question like that from my little guy? How could I not be?

Boy am I lucky. (Thank you God)


New projects

chain-linked (for It Begins with a Colour...)

Well, I have added 3 Vintage Vignettes to my new sidebar, 2 of them with the bloggers unwittingly writing a perfect post for this little project, and one of them a photo comparison -40 years in the making - between the blogger and her son. I'm so excited about this little collection! 

Strangely enough, the "It Begins with a Colour" project at fellow blogger apples for poppy anne has her project this week that asks for contrasts between man and nature (that's an interpretation I suppose). My project is appropriately a snapshot of time passed (or past?) ...about 24 years in the making, more or less, as this little basket chain has grown and become part of the tangerine tree in our backyard. I hope the chain didn't slow it's growth...poor tree.

I also added another item to my sidebar called Precious Child Moments. I read such a wonderful, giggle-out-loud story of her little boy's determination to sell lemonade despite his lack of lemonade (so, so precious) at the Little Red Caboose blog, that I simply had to start this list. I later read an equally wonderful recount from the Angry Chicken blog of her lovely daughters creating imaginary nations. Such detail could only be told by the parents of these children, who can illustrate in their writing the personality of their children. And I suppose only parents would laugh and coddle and appreciate these moments in the way they are meant to be. I hope you enjoy this list as much as I enjoy making it. If you read something that deserves to be on this list, please let me know since I can only read so much.



A little piece of the past: Vintage Vignettes

When I started this blog, I wanted to use it partially to bring bits of history to light. The bits of history we come across every day, the captured moments we find in an item from our past...whether it belonged to us or not. I first fell in love with *history* in 4th grade, the year we learned about California history, and my class was lucky enough to take an overnight field trip to Sutter's Fort, where we dressed like pioneers, worked in the different Fort facilities, making candles, baking bread, selling and buying wares, cooking for 40 or so people, and even standing guard for one shift in the middle of the night. It definitely was the impetus for this ongoing love affair I have with all things related to history.  I'm not an expert at California or American history, but I can tell you there is a story behind every item you see in the antique shop. The small material possessions that we all have are the things that make up our lives - the permanence that will remain long after we are gone (luckily, most of our antiques are not plastic - too bad for our grandchildren...).

Right after my sophomore year of college, I decided to take a year off from school because I still had no idea what I would major in, a decision that was weighing on me and had to be decided soon, at the beginning of my junior year. One Saturday morning I was passing a yard sale where I spied an old, wooden, stand-up radio. This was a piece of furniture - and gorgeous! I somehow attained it for only $15 and the man I bought it from helped me lift it into the trunk of my car. Somehow or another I found out it was a 1929 Atwater-Kent. I found some fabric I liked and re-upholstered the hole in the wood that sat in front of the speaker. The electronic radio parts no longer worked - but no matter ( I kept them but never tried to get it fixed), I used it as a furniture piece in my bedroom, for my things - jewelry, perfume - above which a mirror was placed. Once I even put my current stereo inside and a small speaker where the old speaker had been (not that the sound quality was great through the layers of fabric). On the top of this old radio there was a ring stain - made from a glass of water? A vase of flowers? A vodka tonic? Who knows...but this stain held a story - this stain was the evidence of someone's life - the original owner of the radio perhaps.....I could picture a woman in a dress, standing near the radio. She places her glass of water - still wet on the outside - onto the radio's wood top, as she leans down to push the ottoman in front of her easy chair. She wants to get comfortable for the evening radio show. She goes back to the radio to get her glass of water and sits in her chair for her show. Later, when her show is over, she is about to turn off the lamp that sits on the radio, she sees the ring of water there. "Darn," she thinks, and starts to rub it off, but she can see the stain has already set...

Well, who knows. But this is my imagination, running wild around objects of the past as it always does. I suppose this little ring stain figured it's way into my life and helped me decide that year off to major in history. And now, as I'm about to go back to school in the fall to finish a Master's in Public History, I want to infuse it into my life in some different ways, different from visiting museums or reading books. And this is where you all come in.

So here goes...I am starting a little collection on this blog called "Vintage Vignettes" - which is something like what I've done above, but very wide open. I want to collect stories from the past, vignettes really, just scenes from lives.  This can be in the form of a photograph, a memory you have (needs to be at least 20 years old), or a story you have from a grandparent's life. This can be an item mentioned that we no longer use in every day life, even a thought you may have on how people once lived before the modern day (see Blue Yonder's Blue Blazes for example!), an oral history interview you were lucky enough to participate in, an antique or vintage item you just had to have because...? It has to be personal though. That is the only caveat. No stories about a history exhibit you saw, unless, say, some item stood out to you for some reason, and you want to write about that particular thing as it relates to your life. If you desire, please write these in your blogs (please link back to this entry so other people can participate), let me know, and I will post that entry into my sidebar under "Vintage Vignettes." If it is a photograph you want to post, please become a member of the Flicker Group Vintage Vignettes and post your photo there! Please add a title/caption and some description to give it a sense of time and/or place. This is all about telling stories, whether they be true or "tales out of school" this is the place for them. Share/tell as many as you'd like. They can be short (1-2 sentences) or long (whatever your blogsite will hold!) I will be doing this too, my goal is to make this a regular post, or at least as often as they come to me - I may choose a day for this. Sunday seems like a nice, dreamy day for vintage - but we'll see!  Please have fun with this! I can't wait to read your stories and see your photos! 

(by the way, if you do not have a blog but want to participate, please email me your story and I will post it in one of my entries, crediting you. Then I will place that day's entry under the sidebar "Vintage Vignettes." Make sure to give your story a title!)



Sometimes all the doubts and fears pile up and I find myself unable to write for long periods of time. Sometimes the thoughts are all I can deal with at once, and putting anything down is more than I want to deal with. I have occasional periods where doubts feel overwhelming and I just don't feel like doing anything. Then, the next day, I'll wake up and it will all be gone, like a bad dream, and my mood has lifted and the sun is shining beautifully again. I have become such a mom - I sometimes feel listless without my son, unable to do anything that seems productive and meaningful. I suppose some of this is all just postpartum - late and leftover from the early days of motherhood. The thoughts of him growing and not needing me give me so much sadness and knowing he will leave the nest someday fills my eyes with tears. I know I will be ready (I hope) when that day comes. But the best thing I can do now, I know, is to just live in the moment, since I cannot change what happens in the future. Yes, I know: what am I worried about? He's only 2 1/2. I know. But the changes are exponential. I spoke to my 5 1/2 year old nephew on the phone today and I remember so clearly when he was 6 months old, asleep in my arms (he lives in Alaska so I don't get to watch him grow up). 

Anyhow, this is my absence. I rarely watch T.V., but it seems to be all I can do this week. I hope to regain some vitality soon and return to write here regularly. I do enjoy it. I just need to have that wonderful morning where I rise and shine.


An empty video monitor screen and New beginnings

This morning I sit in front of this computer without looking at the video monitor of my boy sleeping. Why? I have just dropped him off for his first day at a pre-school. It is in a backyard of a woman's house, and it is Waldorf-based, so there is a lot of outdoor, unstructured play. I love it. Tristan seems to like it. But driving home after dropping him off was such a surreal experience. My boy. Preschool. Wasn't he just born? Didn't I just bring him home from the hospital in his little carrier last week? Didn't that happen? I realize he's a little young to go to preschool, but there is no "education" (as we think of it) involved, and he gets some time on his own, gets to learn that mommy comes back, gets to play with children around his age and hopefully feels comfortable enough to go back tomorrow! I am going back to school in the fall to hopefully finish my master's program in Public History. It would be an impossible task if he didn't have some place to go to while I do some studying, so we are doing a trial-run this summer to make sure Tristan is comfortable and adjusted when the real deal starts for me in the fall. I don't think I planned for him to go to any other sort of care until he was around 4, but occasionally, life plans change, as we all know. I am excited but also a little sad. I keep glancing at the video monitor because I never sit here when he is awake. Being a parent is an act of vigilance, and at the moment, with a black screen on the monitor, I have nothing to be vigilant about. 

It is a little surreal.