Saturday, December 1, 2007

Lord what fools these mortals be!

Yes, if I were going to be really righteous about it, I'd have them memorize Bible verses. But I was baptized and confirmed Lutheran, and I was tortured by having to memorize dozens of Bible verses, parts of the church, and all the books of the Bible before I was allowed to be confirmed into the church. Plus, Ben has already been through a year of memorizing Bible verses.

So I decided to go with literature. Their first phrase to memorize being Puck's insight from A Midsummer Night's Dream. They both had it memorized in 2 days. I will probably continue with quite a bit of Shakespeare before I move on to famous sayings of our founding fathers, Sir Winston Churchill, and Mae West.

Speaking of fools, I have had a very Things are Broken kind of week, where the Blue Fairy tries her hand at various home maintenance tasks. I have a bathroom completely disassembled and am patching sheetrock, sanding subfloor, and a lovely new white pedestal sink, latex paint the color of "puppy paws", and vinyl flooring await me (you should have caught the comment from the guy in the flooring store when I started trying to drag out his rolls of remnants... "OK, I see we have an independent woman here who is used to doing things her way... maybe I can help..." as if I was going to wait for him to step up to bat); yesterday one of the circuit breakers from this house, circa 1956, MELTED DOWN in spectacular fashion (thank God it didn't take out any of its neighboring breakers, or melt the whole box down) and I scoured Santa Clara County for the appropriate replacement (I've decided the shop that finally had the part, called something like Bill's Circuit Breakers, should be renamed Shorthair Parts, because that's what they have you by if you need one of these); and as I write, I have a disassembled clothes dryer with an "idler" that is, by all human standards, completely idle. The drum won't turn without it. Perhaps it has retired (to some desert island - certainly not the version of retirement I am currently undergoing).

And so it goes. I became a yogi to endure frustrating events without blowing my own head fuses. Through all, I continue to breathe. And of course, I bake bread.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ooeys and Trogs

The heir apparent wasn't catching on to the idea of carrying in math. I showed him on paper, I put coins in piles, he got that cloudy look (with which I'm quite familiar, as I'm told I exhibit the same symptoms when people talk bits and bites and router configurations to me. I was at one point a VB programmer, but that was purely accidental and geek is not one of my natural languages), he scratched at his eyes, he turned away and found something else to do. Something interesting.

OK. There must be another way.

So I lay in bed one morning at 0400 hours (I'm a yogi, you would think by now I would have learned how to stop that monkey in my head) and it dawned on me: I have boys. I need monsters and violence.

Once upon a time, there were little red monsters called Ooeys. There were also larger orange monsters called Trogs. And there were much bigger, yellow monsters called Hawgs.
The Ooeys liked to get into groups and play. When they got into a large group and there were at least 10 of them, they were compelled to form a circle, run at the center, and BAM! the ten Ooeys would become one Trog. They would then join the Trogs group. If there had been more than 10 Ooeys, the others had to remain Ooeys until there were at least ten, then the circle formed again...

Similarly, when 10 Trogs got together, they always formed into a circle, then ran at the center as one and WHAM! the ten Trogs would become one Hawg. The Hawg joined the Hawgs group. Any remaining Trogs had to stay Trogs until there was a crowd of at least 10.

This worked. No fussing, no complaining, no faraway look, and pretty good results the first time he carried ones into the tens column.

When Ben can complete a page of any two-digit numbers being added to any other two-digit numbers, his reward is a round of golf at Golfland. His success rate must be at least 80%. He is getting close. I believe that carrying is a pretty big milestone for a first grader, so we have a special goal established for this.

Look for us on the links!

I am so grateful for a brain that can come up with alternatives, and for such wonderful children.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Tooth Fairy Time

Ben (the heir apparent) will be seven in the end of March. Today I yanked his first baby tooth, and I warned him: he's my first child, I haven't done this before. We had several tries (it was an itty bitty tooth and really hard to get a good grip on), but finally I just used the brute force method, and out it came.

I believe this is a rite of passage for both of us. I feel so adult! And he's so excited about having the tooth fairy bring him money in exchange for his tooth tonight. What a wonderful time of life.

Motherhood and the Weapons of War

Sunday I made two shields. One was a hexagon, the other closer to a circle, with nice woven straps for the hand or arm, stapled in place. Tools: chop saw, staple gun, hammer, scissors.

Today I helped paint a toy tank, the same tank I glued together. It had three sets of wooden wheels and a turret at the top that spins, with a long snout coming out to fire at the enemy.

And I wonder if, in this progression, I will soon be capturing radioactive isotopes. I know there are instructions available in the public domain for making bombs.

I could have had girls. It's all a crap shoot.

Eternity and the Cat

I love this kitty and I want him to live forever, he says,

glistening tears in his big brown eyes, those eyes I spent

hours gazing at when he was an infant, eyes I wanted to dive into,

the eyes of my last child, my easiest child, the child I will not worry about.

How to understand a lifespan when you are five?

This cat is young now, only two, and he has known us for nearly a year.

I think of the concept of eternity, and how would you capture a life?

In its youth? Then it will not mellow over time, will not reach that comfortable place.

In its prime? Then it will miss the energy of youth, and so much of what was to come.

In its old age? Surely if eternity is to be spent in old age, a gaze will always be cast back

upon the days when life was faster, urges were stronger, when there were fights to be

had with the other Toms, when life and adventure lay ahead.

Here I am in midlife, one foot on each side of the apex, wondering what comes next,

and not yet faced with the reckoning of old age. I think again on this cat

and his amazing patience, his affability, his endurance; always wanting to be where the

children are, where the action is, and tolerant nearly to a fault. And I realize that for him,

it does not matter – eternity for this creature could be a snapshot taken at any point in his

life and the child would be happy, the cat would be happy. Eternity would hold no regrets.

And I wonder how I could possibly live to have the same

said of me.

Written 17 Oct 07

Dedicated to Tanner Michael Bennett and Atticus, the most perfect cat

Friday, September 14, 2007

Designs so far

I have four designs to submit to Knitty next month, and if they are not accepted I will show them here. They are: a peacock shawl (100% alpaca, lots of colors, quite pretty really), alpaca gauntlets with angora trim, a fulled alpaca Fibonacci stripe bag, and yoga socks. Most of these designs arose from my desire to eliminate some partial skeins of alpaca from my stash. It's gone!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Aleve is my friend.

My legs are covered with bruises. I counted at least 40 on each leg. At least I face my assailant: they are all on my ventral side except for one large one on my derrière.

Chipping hundreds of trees and thousands of tree branches is hard but rewarding work. There is a lot more light at Meadowood now, and room for another - dare I say? - small orchard. I'm thinking of fruits AND nuts this time. I'm envisioning a large macadamia tree, and some rare fruits that will be a taste treat at a Farmer's Market someday.

And I have perhaps seven cords of wood that I could sell. First I need to stack it into the neat little piles, 4 x 4 x 8, and it needs to cure a while. But I'm not selling the madrone wood - it's wonderful for fires and cooking. We didn't take down many madrones, but there was one large one that had fallen, and several that had died. PERSONALLY, although they're lovely, I'm not that crazy about madrones because in a bad storm the large ones can go down VERY unpredictably, but everyone I know thinks they're just fabulous. One of the largest ones on the property went down one night after weeks of rain, it sits there still while I contemplate what I might be able to do with it (floor planks?), and I'll never forget the sound it made when it fell, taking out two redwoods in its path. Its roots are LAME for a tree that big, reminiscent of a palm tree, why is that?

My right wrist is damaged from two days of handling my chainsaw (which has a new chain - the man at the Aptos Tool Crib was kind enough to show me EXACTLY how to replace it - and cuts beautifully). So I'm on the injured reserve list now.

I put the roof on the shower (well, it's not perfect because by then my right wrist hurt), and started the new sweater. I avoided using either the chainsaw OR the chipper without another person present. Because if you scream in the middle of the forest and there's nobody to hear you.... you don't make a sound. No philosophizing required.

I slept on the dance floor every night, and there were always shooting stars - even one morning after dawn, I saw a very large, bright one flash across the eastern sky. It was breathtaking - I've never seen one in the morning before.

My husband and boys returned from their family reunion, dirty and rested. The kids act like small, unruly animals after being with their pack of cousins. But they are SAFE. I am relieved and grateful.

While I was gone I received the results of the soil tests. Sunnyvale soil contains too much salt (I already knew this - this house is too close to the baylands to be unscathed - but now I have it and the requisite amendments on paper) and needs iron; Meadowood, surprisingly, is lacking in some trace elements and iron. Perhaps today the Demolition Team and I will make it to the store to buy some amendments.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

A week to myself

What would you do with a week all to yourself?

That is what I have once per year, when my husband takes the kids to his annual family reunion in Pend Oreille, Idaho. I think I attended this for about 7 years, but honestly I'd rather be working at Meadowood in August if I have one free week.

I drove them to the airport yesterday afternoon. I have until the 12th at 1:30pm.

So I spent a short time at Home Depot yesterday, where a very helpful woman loaded me up with the appropriate solvent and gloves to take about 30 years of adhesives off the beautiful tongue-in-groove oak in the foyer in the Sunnyvale house (I removed the 30+ year old tiles in December; the rest of the job has awaited me). I then spent 3-1/2 hours applying solvent, waiting, scraping, mopping, and ultimately using a 1/2" chisel to take off the layers of goo. My right hand was practically shaking when I was done (I tried switching hands, but alas I am surely right dominant, and tended to divot the oak when using my left), but the floor is ready for The Sander (which I will have to borrow from my neighbor in Aptos).

Last night I met a friend at a restaurant, which is the only way I can stop myself from becoming a perfectionist and removing every visible scrap of glue and trashing my wrist for the next week. She will come over and talk to Atticus, our beautiful, social white cat, while I'm gone.

This morning I did my breathing and a little yoga to help unstick my shoulders after last night's scraping orgy, made a huge batch of chai, watered the front yard and baby plants (I'm accumulating plants awaiting a place to live until I get my soil test results back from Timberleaf labs - which should be in another week or so - as I know I need amendments, but don't know which ones, both in Sunnyvale and at Meadowood). I now have a THREE-POUND LOAF of bread on the rise - one of those spiteful recipes that shows a beautiful, round, artisan loaf, and midway through the recipe has the statement, "resist the urge to add more flour". This means that it is a STICKY, GOOEY MESS all over my hands, implements and board, and I once would be near tears when faced with this. But since yoga and since knowing and baking bread with Peter Beckman, I now simply ask, "What would Peter do?" Which drove me to dumping the whole sticky mess into the KitchenAid mixer and adding as much flour as needed to get it to start showing signs of stringy bonds. I will not be undone by a lump of bread dough.

I have promised to read fairy stories to three little neighbor girls while I'm there, so must pack all my fairy gear. I will include a photo of my fairyness when I get the chance to download.

Now I need to figure out how to get my black lab (Sadie), clothes for a week, food for a week, knitting projects, books on homeschooling, fairy wings (four feet long), and fairy dress into my little blue Mazda Protege hatchback (it's small - my cars get 25mpg or I don't buy them). Something will have to stay. Since I can't leave Sadie here (she would be so sad and so hot) and she takes up the entire hatchback, it will be an exercise in stuffing. I suspect it will be the food (they DO sell food in Aptos, after all). Of course, I'll bring my chai and bread :-).

Oh, my plans, yes, I nearly forgot: tree work. A friend who is a professional tree man will be walking the property with me on Monday to show me which trees I'll need to thin; I'll be hiring a handyman for three days to help me buck up fallen trees on the property (I think there were seven at last count); one day a friend and I will be installing gates for the citrus garden, stone fruit garden, and vineyard; I will fertilize all of my baby citrus trees; and clear fairy circles. If I get half the chance, I'll finish the new roof on the outdoor shower (I just need to cut all the roof braces and nail up the currogated, transparent sheeting). I will do yoga every day to help my shoulders out. I will begin a beautiful new shawl design, which I now have the beads for. I might start on a man's sweater. I'll read fairy stories to little girls. I'll load up the bookshelves with paper and homeschool books. I will borrow showers from friends, and sleep every night on the dance floor.

And I promise to SIP my wine :-).

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Distilled: essence of Lisa

More than four weeks of intensive yoga teacher training, practicums, and classes.
I have been stretched, aligned, superoxygenated, and sweated down to my essential self.
In the process, I lost 11 pounds. I am back to fighting weight, pre-Ben weight.
Not that this was intended, mind you. I suspect that most of us lost weight.

There is something strange and indescribable about the process of becoming a yogi. The real intent of yoga is breath control, meditation, and a special kind of surrender: a calmer state, certainly an alpha-wave state. In that state, it appears that one requires less food.

That's the best way I can describe it. Words fail me, my culture fails me in describing this phenomenon. Perhaps the oxygenated system requires less fuel. Perhaps slowing down and letting go of stressors produces a body that requires less food. I just don't know.

All I know is, it's a good thing, it would help so many people, and I want to share it with others. I'm hoping to specialize in teaching it to seniors, but children are also an opportunity, and private lessons with people who know that their bodies need help. It's a bit like AA, I think, in that you need to recognize the need for it before you're ready for the healing.

Anyway, my initial training is done. I now need to help an existing teacher in a dozen classes (sort of like an internship), then I'll be qualified to teach. I'm hoping to teach a class at the Senior Center in the fall. We shall see where this goes. I'm on a new path.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Baling hay

Well, the time has come. Tomorrow I fly to Colorado to meet the intrepid soul who inherited my job (and more) when I left HP. Laura says she'll teach me how to use her tractor and bale hay. I knew those cowboy boots would come in useful someday. She says I can ride her horse EVERY DAY if I like. Woo hoo!

Yesterday we had another apparently successful (the numbers aren't tallied yet) Friends of the Sunnyvale Library booksale; I got there at 7am to help set up, then had to run off to Santa Cruz at 11-ish for the day's teacher training. In the short period I had to graze the booksale, I *DID* manage to pick up lots of homeschool books, presents for the boys, and some books for myself.

Yoga teacher training has been going well, although I am bone tired some nights, and I nearly fell asleep on 101 the other night.

Last night when I arrived at the cabin, I disturbed the local fauna's imminent destruction of more peach limbs from my only highly productive fruit tree. You should see the barricade I created! Very rustic, but hopefully effective.

It was a beautiful night to sleep beneath the stars, as usual.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Nearly three weeks...

Things have been a bit hectic.
  • First day, the boys and I painted the front fence, as per my List. Wow, what an experience! I probably have the first 4-year-old with white hair. Oh, yeah, it washes out.
  • Second day, I drove up to Mendocino County to take a day tour of the Ecology Action gardens in Willits. I am considering becoming certified so that I can teach others how to do this intensive method of organic gardening. There is a 3-day course in October.
  • By June 15th, I had painted the master bathroom, with the help of a hired hand (no pun intended). So much for two major things on my Master List.
  • On the 12th, I also signed up for the month-long intensive yoga training. It started last Friday, and is every day, in Capitola/Santa Cruz. So I've been staying at Meadowood and sleeping on the dance floor (for the uninitiated, when Mike and I had our wedding reception in May of 1999, he had built a raised "dance floor" of plywood for the event. A friend had suggested that we keep it even after the event, which to date has been a great piece of advice. I sleep on the dance floor with a portable mattress, sleeping bag, and optional bug netting nearly every month of the year). I hope to specialize in teaching seniors and children this fun, flowing form of yoga. It has done such wonderful things for me in the past 3-1/2 years, and with the right instruction I think it has something for nearly everyone.

By sometime this summer I should be a certified Kali Ray yoga instructor, and by next year I might be an organic garden instructor. In the fall my next two knitting classes begin (Cables and Intermediate I). Which all points to the fact that I truly enjoy teaching.

Last Tuesday I checked what felt like a small truckload of books out of the library on the topic of homeschooling, and Wednesday I was able to attend a park date with the local Memorial Park Homeschoolers group, nice women all. I feel they were tremendously brave to have ALL, to a WOMAN, declared their own homeschool (they're not in any way connected to the state school system).

So in the past few days I've learned a bit of Sanskrit (beautiful characters), a lot of history behind yoga, and a great deal about breath control. After class, in the cabin, I've also been plowing through all of the homeschool books and wondering if I'm brave enough. You never know. Maybe I'll declare our home a homeschool and bypass the state. The jury is out on that one.

I came home today to spend some time with the boys, do some laundry, and log in. We went to the library and checked out and turned in books; posted posters around town for the upcoming Friends book sale; stopped by Jamba Juice for a treat; and went to the local park. (Can small boys get tired of being around their own mother? Don't know. Plan to find out.)

My gold HP Retiree badge had arrived while I was gone this week. Big smile for that one! I had always coveted those things, and this one has my name all over it!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Two more days of work

I have two more days of working at HP, which will include finishing up one project, boxing up my stuff (which I detest, it feels like ripping roots out), wiping my hard disk and sending my laptop back to my manager. Someone please keep me from crying tomorrow.

At least we stopped at the library after dinner tonight, to turn in last month's stack of books and to schlep more home. I must have checked out a dozen books on home schooling. Maybe that will keep me from breaking down in the next two days.

I sent out my "hasta luego amigos" message to dozens of friends from HP today. At least I managed that without blubbering.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Friends of the Library

I'm a "Friend" of the Sunnyvale Library. I help sort books, and help with booksales. Books are my friends (I think I learned that in 3rd grade). I get more for myself than I can plow through in my allocated free time, and our boys have WAY too many books (if that is possible).

I was looking for a new non-profit to help out after Second in Command was born, as I could no longer teach English as a Second Language because it simply took too much of my mommy time away. It was hard enough after the Heir Apparent was born, but with two, I couldn't slice the time out any more. And the good news is, now that they're a bit older, they come to all the sales, love to pick out books, help me stock the table at the library, and are "regulars" in the library. We sort through their books twice each year and give the ones they don't like any more back to the library as a donation. This seems pretty wonderful to me in the Big Scheme of Things, and I hope they will continue as they grow older to appreciate giving back to the community.

How I got involved with the California Rare Fruit Growers

I've been with the California Rare Fruit Growers (CRFG), Santa Clara Valley Chapter, for possibly 10 years now (I simply don't remember). I am a Certified Master Gardener prodigal (didn't complete my required community hours - had to work!) who bought beautiful land in the Santa Cruz Mountains (named it Meadowood) who needed to know what kinds of fruit trees would grow there, and thus (I'll always blame Sini for this) I was referred to the CRFG group.

Now, I suspect EVERY group has its fanatics, but I have now been on a rescue mission to a San Diego white sapote orchard, have helped to develop new strains of peaches and nectarines, have one apple tree with about 30 different varieties grafted to it, and have no less than 60 rare fruit trees at Meadowood. And I know a select group of people who know how to find practically any kind of rare fruit you could want to grow, and a couple who know how to graft ANYTHING, and with high success rates.

Once I have completed my inventory, I'll post it here. But in summary, I have white sapote, avocado, plum, peach, nectarine, fig, pear, apple, grape, persimmon, apricot, several kinds of citrus, and cherry trees either at Meadowood or here in Sunnyvale, many of them not yet fruiting. One day they will all be of bearing age, and it will be Catie, bar the door.

The Demolition Crew

We have two munchkins: miniature humans who go running through the house deconstructing. I call them to Demolition Crew. They both carry a Y chromosome, no mea culpa, and are thus known as Boys. The Second in Command was born very near Halloween, 2002, and the Heir Apparent was born at the end of March, 2001. They're both great kids, and of course very different. Today they weigh EXACTLY the same, and the Second in Command trails his brother by about 3/4" in height. One day (not far from now, by my predictions) he will be larger and taller than HA. This is why we have attempted to teach the Heir Apparent how to use WORDS to deal with his brother. "Because one day he'll sit on your head", I tell him. This only infuriates him further. So we wait for the day and make sure there aren't any truly dangerous weapons in the house.

I am a BIG, BIG fan of the Ooey Gooey lady, Lisa Murphy. I could be accused of hero worship here, she is VERY child- and play-centered, and has a wonderful story to tell. Her web site is, check it out. I think there's a photo of my Demolition Crew on her site somewhere. I've attended her summer sessions the past two years.

And now I'm considering homeschooling. I'm considering it very seriously. I'm looking for contacts who have done this with small Y-bearing creatures. Because I will be leaving the workforce at the end of the month (May 2007) and do not need to return. And I like teaching them. And they seem to enjoy learning from and with me. So it may be a win-win for all (so much for those knitting books running around in my head). I will continue to post about my search for the solution that works for us. There are SO many resources out there, it's a bit scary.

I always thought homeschooling was the purview of extremists, people who didn't want the hoi polloi touching their children, but I attended a lecture last week and found three pretty mainstream parents talking about homeschooling, with both young kids and teenagers. I had no idea. The movement is huge. I learn new stuff all the time. I am proven wrong all the time. This will not change (especially with the munchkins in my life not yet reaching teenagerhood). I think I'll be particularly wrong when they're teenagers. We shall see.
My main desire here is to capture knitting designs and ideas that go running rampantly through my head. Feel free to comment... and vote... on which ones may end up in books.