Saturday, May 30, 2015

Getting There

When the Big Event is out at the coast and I live in the mountains (the inland ones, not the coastal), there are the discussions of Getting There. What once was an easy jaunt for me has become a bit of a challenge since I actually nodded off at the wheel fairly recently. I've fought sleepiness for years and years, but this nod-off scared the bejeebers out of me. Daughter lives at the corner of the dogleg halfway to the coast and proposes that we carpool in some manner. And she wants me to bring my truck. Because she feels that it will hold more people than my car. (I'm not sure there's a practical difference.)

The Big Event has precipitated a long-deferred need to buy new bras. I need a shop that has a fitter. I'm still wearing the same type of three-to-a-$10-box Penneys bras since mid-century. Nylon. They are virtually indestructible and fit me okay a mid-century ago. This calls for professionals. I call on Daughter for guidance. But more on that later.

The Big Event is on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, but there are Preceding Events and traffic-en-route to plan for. We settle on my driving the truck to her Central Valley house to arrive when she gets off work Friday afternoon. We'll go bra shopping at the mall in her city, stay at her house overnight, and head for the coast Saturday morning. Friday morning Change of Plans. (That will become our watchword.) We'll continue on to the coast Friday evening.

I arrive at Daughter's house, after being lost getting there, moments before she does. She completely fills the back seat of the truck. (I have one small suitcase, a rolling backpack, and a bag of  miscellaneous.)  She brings bedding and such for three of her children, plus two of their significant others. As we head into the Friday evening holiday traffic toward the mall in the opposite direction of our intended travel -- change of plans. We'll go to the coast now and look for Victoria's Secret (Daughter's bra shop of choice) in the city over there on Saturday.

Dog in a pink coat looking at renovation

Under overcast skies we head across the Central Valley, noting how arid the fields are with the drought.

Daughter works for the power company and points out the sources and destinations and the carrying capacity of the lines as we pass by them all along the roadway.

I swing the camera (my phone for this trip) over to catch the cluster of big power transmission poles and catch a cluster of sheep along with them.

We do pass a ditch of water, possibly for farm or ranch use. California has the most complicated water rights laws imaginable (or maybe beyond imaginable) in just about anywhere, so there's no guessing the ownership and destination of this water.

Our overcast gets darker as we go west in the Valley, but it looks like it may be lighter on the other side of the upcoming mountains. Sun is forecast for the coast this afternoon/evening.

We climb up into the hills that constitute the west rim of the Central Valley.

The clouds are breaking, although one still hides the sun. Those are lenticular clouds hanging out there, aren't they?

Finally, we're on the flat of a valley that's just one small range of hills short of the coast. There is sunshine.

I'm staying at Son's house where Daughter lets me off. She and her crew (when it arrives from multiple destinations) are camping out in my used-to-be 5th wheel on another property.  As usual, there is a major congregation of young people here. His house has been a hangout for his kids and their friends for many years. One gets evicted from his room for me to stay in for the weekend.

Here's my son, King of All He Surveys.

And his entourage. They provide vital assistance for the Big Event. You might notice that Son is a big guitar collector.

Two young ladies with honey-colored hair grace the couch, apparently amused by what the guys are up to.

Kitty disguises herself as a sound-system component and stashes herself in a cubby appropriately.

First Husband/Son's Father watches over the goings-on from his horse.

Change of plans,  Daughter and I blow off bra shopping until Saturday.

More to follow.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Day after. Day. After. . . Rhythms of Life

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. A fast, high-pitched cadence. I fade deeper into the dream. My dreams have been vivid, and odd, yet still I don't remember them once I'm awake. It takes a few moments to realize it's the alarm on my cell phone. It's the only timepiece I have in my bedroom. I must have a doctor's appointment today. Whatever the dream
was . . .

*     *     *

It's the story of life, isn't it? Patterns that repeat. Breakfast. Because I always wake up hungry. Lunch. Maybe, if I think of it. Snacks. It's easy to snack the afternoon away. Then dinner. It's nine p.m. as I start the text for this blog and I haven't had dinner yet. That means I won't cook anything more complicated than a Lean Cuisine in the microwave. I think I have some green salad and a little fruit left over from the senior lunch on Thursday and I can toss the remnants of the cottage cheese into the mix. Henley has settled on my lap now, so supper will wait until he starts his annoying leaps across me that expresses his displeasure with my current occupation.

*     *     *

Jean-Luc has his morning routine. He sleeps on top of me all night. Once I get out of bed he hides under the sleeping bag (or in this case, his kitty blanket) until I roll it up and toss it in the closet.

For most of the years I've lived up in the foothills, I took the main highways to the Little City Down the Hill. It's longer but it can be faster. There are many proponents of a shorter, more sinuous back road. But I don't like it. It has no passing all the way to the Little City and I get all annoyed when I'm behind someone who drives too slow (like 15 mph below the speed limit).

Then a friend drives me into town on a ridiculously long and winding route. I can't remember what prompted me to take it myself one day and now I love the narrow, bumpy, winding road through farm, ranches, orchards and wild country. Less traffic, hardly any, and it ends up closer to most of my usual destinations.

I feel like I've already used this man's photo, in a blog or maybe on Facebook. He was in the waiting room at the doctor's office and I ask him if I can take his picture in his wonderful hat. In addition to being rather unusual as an around-town hat, there is a wonderful incongruity with the wall art he's sitting in front of. He tells me he has a whole repertoire of hats from working in the theatre. I wonder if I've seen him in a local production at some time. Sir, if you see yourself here, would you mind sharing your name with me in the Comments below?

I'm making this a day on the town. I have a chocolate croissant and a triple latté as a snack at Starbucks after the doctor because I will have popcorn at the movies for lunch. I'm going to try for a double header. Does anyone remember when we always had a double-feature at the movies for our 25¢?  Instead, I get to pay the senior daytime $7.50.  Twice.  It's an action-filled afternoon: Kingsman, and American Sniper.

Two pictures for Kingsman

I take a picture of the poster for The Imitation Man so I'll remember the title for a future movie opportunity.

No matter that deer roam through our area every day, we never tire of looking out a window at them, or taking pictures. This is only about half of a morning gathering along the road. Many wander away when I stop the car to take pictures,

I make an impulse online purchase of this tee-shirt. At that moment I thought it an apt description of me.

I am a writer. That means I live in a crazy fantasy world with 
unrealistic expectations. Thank you for understanding.

I find a yellow iris in my planter box. Was it there last year? I don't remember it. Perhaps the garden crew put it in. I have purple iris with a long history, but it's not blooming yet.

I actually cooked here: soup. I bought some spelt, because I read somewhere that that is another name for the French grain épeautre, which we had enjoyed last summer in Provence in a nice soup. There's a nice discussion, in French, of épeautre in French Wikipedia, found with {Smile} My soup is good.

The usual beautiful Spring trips to the Little City Down the Hill (or returning home in this case).

Each week our knitters and crocheters of NeedleCrafts produce pretty new items. They gift them to their expanding numbers of family members and offspring through the generations, or sell them at Our Little Town's many craft fairs and faires.

Teddy  Bear models a little sweater, cap and scarf which can be used by other Teddy Bears or by little humans.

What? You're going to roll up my bed again?

Day after day, there is the regular rhythm, punctuated with quilt camps and airplane trips. The next high note is:

Ta daa

That's for my Boy and his Bride-to-Be.  Coming soon . . .


Monday, May 11, 2015

Zigzagging through April

               . . .  and dribbling into May

Little Black Kitty was introduced to me by its Mother, along with its two or three siblings, about nine months ago. It's a tiny cat, which hasn't kept pace in growth with the one kitty I know is from the same litter. I couldn't tell whether it was he or she until Great Big Fluffy Sourpuss began his courtship of her, maybe three or four months ago. The Cat Rescue Ladies had done an excellent job of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) while I was away in France last fall. It was time to get them back.

I dawdle around, carefully watching Little Black Kitty's waistline for awhile, gradually getting her to allow me to pat her head when I feed her, maybe even touch her sides to see whether all that frolicking with Sourpuss yielded results. Time goes by with no apparent changes in her profile, but Sourpuss comes back, which finally gives me a nudge to get with it.

It's not long before I'm due to go to Asilomar for my Empty Spools quilt class at the end of March. Cat Rescue Lady sets several traps on my decks. Since there are several cats around, it's hard to target just one. We hover in the house, listening for the sound of a trap springing. Both of us watch LBK enter a trap. Victory is at hand! But she senses the movement of the trap release and the sound of the gate sliding down, and with her small, quick body she hits the descending gate hard before the lock rings slide down to hold it in place, and blasts out of the trap and away.

A few minutes later, another trap is sprung and escaped from, unwitnessed. We don't see who it is but suspect it's LBK.  Then a third trap springs, capturing -- ta da! -- Sourpuss.

Actually, Sourpuss is a beautiful cat. It's just that he never looks happy. Here he is, back from his surgery for a few days of recuperation inside before I can release him. He had a difficulty during surgery -- an undescended testicle. He was officially renamed for his surgery to Casanova. (Or possibly Romeo ... two males went on the trip to the out-of-town vet surgery center.)

*     *     *

I take the cage outside the day before I leave for Asilomar, open the gate, and watch him disappear around the corner of the garage.

We have a flicker of hope this day that we might get some rain in our drought-dry California community.

But nothing more than a shower, lighter than mist, lands on the parched landscape.

Are my Internet problems over? Service has been intermittent for a week as the cable company guys work to  balance the system. Keeping all this stuff in balance sounds incredibly complex ... and touchy. They have discovered that besides the problems in the system, I personally have a personal problem in my connections. Overall, it's mostly fine now. I'll get more personal attention when the bigger picture is dealt with. On the plus side, my Internet speed has been doubled. :-)

I have medical appointments and procedures tucked between quilting events: seeing doctors, setting up appointments for procedures, and arranging transportation for the same.  In one bucolic trip to the Little City Down the Hill, turkeys crossing the roadway in front of me decide the way of escape is by running down the road ahead of me.

*     *     *

Here are Jean-Luc and Henley, so content that Mommy is home from Asilomar. (Purrrrrrrrr.)

This kitty is one of Little Black Kitty's siblings. He had his trip to the Cat Rescue vet while I was in France. He's creeping across the back deck, intent on something he thinks he sees off the deck . . .

"There's something out there . . . gotta see it, gotta see it..."

"Never mind. False alarm."

He's been here long enough now that I think I ought to give him a name. I haven't even had a descriptive name, like Little Black Kitty or Big Fat Fluffy Kitty. I've become confused over the years about who's who among all the striped kitties with sox. I'm beginning to feel he's a Timmy, and, because his rear white sox go all the way up his legs like women's silk stockings of days of old, Timmy Longstockings. That way I should be able to remember which soxed cat he is.

And there he is, back eating with the other cats: Casanova. He's okay. For all I know, he's been eating here while I was at Asilomar.

There's Little Black Kitty, eating with Casanova and Timmy, while Little M looks on. Is there a little bulge to LBK's abdomen? I don't trust that I can catch her with a trap. She's been spooked by it. But can I fool her with neck skritches, then grab her by the ruff and stick her into a regular carrier?

For a couple of days I squat down while she eats and rub her neck and gently caress her sides. It's a Monday or a Tuesday; I've lost track of exactly when.  The Cat Rescue bus makes its trip on a Wednesday. I don't know whether it's this Wednesday, but if it isn't, I'll take her to the local vet. They're not excited about dealing with the wild ferals, but can do it. Next Wednesday, I'll be away at quilt camp. It's now or ... who knows when?

LBK climbs the screen every time I'm anywhere in view. Believe me, these cats track my presence through every window within their vision. (You can see her handiwork in the photos taken through the screen.) She thinks she needs to eat. I've put a cat carrier on end with its door open, just inside the screen door.  I'm nervous. I'd love to be wearing gloves, but those would spook her and I might lose my grip. I'm hoping for success, and not too much damage to my person.

When the moment is at hand, I tighten my grip on the scruff of her neck and lift her gently. I resist putting a hand under her hind legs because I know that's worth a handful of little daggers. She dangles calmly until I start to guide her rear quarters into the cat carrier. Then she erupts into flailing claws and struggles loose. She heads for the screen door but I've pulled it closed and she doesn't get through it. Over and over she lunges up to the top of the screen, then drops back down. I run for a large towel and try to grab and wrap. Eventually I manage to swaddle her and shove her into the carrier. I lock carrier and cat in my sewing room, where Jean-Luc and Henley won't be able to bother her.

I call the Cat Rescue Lady. We're in luck. There is a bus run this Wednesday. Cat Rescue Lady is sick, so I am to drop  Little Black Kitty off at the park early Wednesday evening for her interim ride with other kitties from Our Little Town to the Little City Down the Hill to transfer to the Cat Rescue bus.

Tuesday they say there may be rain. Or thundershowers.

Lightning flashes and flickers. Thunder crashes and rolls. Rain clatters. Only it's hail. It continues until streets and yards and decks and patio tables are covered with little balls of ice piled so thickly that look like snow. Little Black Kitty is toasty in my sewing room in the cat carrier. The other kitties are hiding out under the patio table or in the kitty tube, an insulated igloo for feral cat housing.

Wednesday comes and the weather clears. Little Black Kitty's carrier is covered to calm her down here at the park where I deliver her. After her surgery she'll be transferred into the trap for her return home for a few days of recuperation.

Five other local kitties are here for the same journey.

Thursday morning, Little M and Timmy are sitting vigil for LBK outside my bedroom window.

I get the arrival home time home wrong. I thought it was nine Thursday morning. It's nine Thursday evening.

She's subdued when she gets home but becomes more and more irritable as days go by. I'm supposed to keep her in for a week, so she'll be healed well enough that it wouldn't injure her if a male tries to mount her. I know I have to let her out a little early, because I'm going to quilt camp. Yes, more quilting.

Now it's time to get ready for quilt camp. I arrange the shimmer blocks I partially completed at Asilomar and fold up the flannel quilt wall to take it to camp.

My non-sewing junk is hauled to my sleeping room by the young interns at the camp. I leave it piled thusly until I'm ready to go to bed at 12 or 1-ish and I have to unroll my sleeping bag and get out a few toiletries.

Quilters at work over the next few days:

This may look like a regular size quilt but it's probably no more than 18" square. Maybe less. Look at how perfectly all the points just "kiss" each other. Exquisite work.

Toasty soft animal prints quilt. (No real animals were harmed in the making of this quilt.)

This sunflower and poppy panel blows me away. I've tried to find it on the Internet but wasn't able to, although I did find a strictly poppy one.

I'm in the processes of stitching my Shimmer quilt pieces together.

I remember this from an earlier when the quilter was struggling with block sizes and arrangement. It's come together here.

I posted a photo of this (Facebook?) and someone commented that it looks like I'm working on a puzzle and did the edge parts first.

I brought other projects along to work on after I finish sewing the Shimmer quilt top together. Silly me. On the eve before we're to go home I finally complete it. The tradition when you finish a quilt top is to unfurl it for the assemblage and announce "ta-daaa."  By the time I finish, everyone else has gone to bed, so as I do those last stitches I ponder whether I can video the ta-daa on my phone and make up my little speech. Here's my little film, er, phone video.

Now I will reveal a little secret. Just as I was about to start recording, Denise, who'd been up second-latest with me but has ostensibly gone to bed,  came back into the room just as I was propping my camera up. She got a live ta-daa but I made her hide out of view and not giggle while I went through with my original plan.

I'm shocked when I get home to find weathered newspapers in the driveway and the jars of dry cat food in the garage undisturbed from where I'd left them. The kitty sitter hasn't been here since I left. The outside kitties greet me cheerfully. They can find food in the neighborhood.But I can only hope my "boys," locked inside, are okay. They do greet me happily, but every kernel of kibble has been eaten and the water tower is empty. Fortunately my lady who cleans left water in my bathroom basin, as had I when I left. I provide my kitty sitter with a calendar of trips quite a ways in advance. Fortunately, I find a copy of the calendar I sent before I say something to her ... and ... my fault. Quilt camp isn't on her list.

My little Cuddle Bug is glad to have me back.

That isn't my only recent major boo-boo. April 15 -- and most of you should recognize the significance of that date -- occurs during quilt camp. I've been trying to find a way to describe here what happened, but it defies description.

Suffice it to say, for the first time in years I'd been able to file my income taxes toward the end of February, avoiding a conflict between April tax filing and this spring's travel for quilt events. I'd paid taxes and overdue taxes then. I was silently gloating as others were sweating it in April.

I don't get back into Quicken to schedule my usual end-of-month payments until April 24. At this point, I discover I have neglected to pay estimated taxes, quite a bit, both federal and state, due on April 15. And now, late penalties, too. It means reawakening all that Turbo Tax stuff I thought I'd safely forgotten.


"What is this?" Little M seems to ask as rain falls . . .