Don't Shoot the Messenger

I know some of you feel betrayed by The Groundhog's pronouncement earlier this month. Even Central California was yesterday threatened with snow levels creeping down the foothills to the Valley floor. In fact there is a lovely dusting in the hills, and today's high was a chilly 46 degrees Fahrenheit, in spite of which Spring has sprung.

I have lived in this Valley for 20 years and every single year I am surprised by the third week of February when the almond trees and thereafter the stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, plums) explode in a riot of pink. It is a wonderful surprise.

Every. Single. Year.

It was overcast when we left town this morning to take care of business 90 miles north. But look at our drive home! 

Sunshine or snowbanks, it is a beautiful world in which we live.         (And I'm gonna keep that mirror sparkling clean from here on out. You never know when something amazing will show up in the rearview.)


Royal Drama

Whatcha been up to lately?

 I’ve done a little sorting, cleaning, giving stuff away, throwing stuff away, filling boxes with stuff.

 Also. In amongst all that fun I’ve been watching royal dramas:

Well, OK, Shine was belatedly catching up with the work of Geoffrey Rush, who bowled me over in The King’s Speech. And Colin Firth. Well, we all know and love Colin Firth. I wonder when the day will come that he cannot delight us anymore?

The British royalty films have been a lovely prelude to the upcoming excitement in April when Kate Middleton and Prince William will be married.

Thirty years ago I stayed up all night to watch live television coverage of Prince Charles’s & Diana’s royal wedding on July 29, 1981. It seemed like a fairytale come true.
And, silly young girl that I was, I played along. I got married exactly one month later on August 29, 1981.

Diana’s firstborn son came along in 1982, and so did mine.
Her second child was born in 1984, and so was mine.
Her marriage disintegrated in the 1990’s, so did mine.
She divorced and was tragically killed in a car accident in Paris in 1997. I divorced and thought I was gonna die before I got through law school shortly after the turn of the century. It all sounds like ancient history when I recount it now.

Meanwhile, back in the present day, Prince William embodies some of his mother’s grace and beauty. He seems a worthy mate for Kate Middleton, and Kate’s style has already been compared to that of the mother-in-law she never knew. It’s all great fun to watch in this celebrity-worship culture in which we live. If you dig a little deeper into the collective psyche, I suppose we all watch with the hope that Will & Kate can manage to gather up some of the magic we thought was lost when Diana perished. We have a collective longing for a true Happily Ever After to follow this beautiful, young, and royal couple, just as we long for it to show up in the lives of every couple, beautiful, young and royal or otherwise.

But Happily Ever After or Not, I plan to become completely swept up in over-exposure that is bound to build up to April 29, 2011.

Then I really must find something other than royal drama to occupy my imagination for a time.

Like…I dunno…perhaps unpacking and settling into a new castle with my very own Prince Charming?


Elephants & Me

This magazine used to sit in a stack in the Conservatory
and I stopped to look every time I passed that way.
So I finally grabbed it and propped it on an easel for display.
 It is a photograph I can't stop looking at.

I found another stash of magazines when I was winnowing
and simplifying the other day and I began to notice
a pattern emerging: 

Then this clipping appeared in my new scribble book: 

And I recalled the Nellie's Elephants sweater I knitted
for GrandGril this time last year as we were
anticipating her arrival: 

On the knick-knack shelf
(you have a knick-knack shelf, right?)
I found this darling little Heffalump: 

And very near him I found the sweet little guy
that started my whole collection:
Toby Johanes was lovingly crafted many years ago by a child of mine. You may notice that he suffered an unfortunate trunk injury a while back. Nothing a little love and SuperGlue could not fix.
The rare blue-eyed yellow elephant from the wilds of Central CA.
A real treasure.


Leeks & The People Who Love Them

I am not a foodie. And only recently have I engaged in Recreational Cooking. Before today my repetoire included only one recipe for leeks, but now I have two. Leeks look like green onions on steroids. This is a delicious way to eat them:

Mr. Last says Leek Bread Pudding reminds him a bit of bread stuffing at Thanksgiving. I think it's a bit more sophisticated. Judge for yourself.  Recipe (and much better-looking photos, though I doubt her dish tasted any better than mine. It looks overbaked to me) from here.


Choose Your Own Adventure

These random photos are unrelated except that they wanted to be posted here. I could weave an imaginary tale, or just lead you through my crazy train of thinking, but I'm feeling lazy tonight.

So make up your own story.

Or just enjoy the visual feast.


My Baby

Many years ago Terri Lynn (we don't call her that any more and you'd be wise not to call her that either) made me a Big Sister. She had a fuzzy head, big blue eyes, and really sharp teeth. She was kinda like my very own baby doll come to life -- except for the really sharp teeth.

A few years down the road Sister acquired a vicious biting habit and I have a scar on the knuckle of my left thumb that I attribute to those really sharp teeth. Although at our advanced age I no longer have a clear memory of the actual biting incident, if in fact there was one. But that's my story and I'm stickin' with it. Anyway, she eventually decided teeth were more useful for eating cold hard sticks of butter from the fridge.
Sister had a customized tricyle we called the "Broom Broom" upon which she first perfected the amazing driving skills she continues to demonstrate to this day. A recent automotive adventure nearly had her resorting to the Flintstone-style locomotion of her childhood. She may or may not tell you about it.

When I started kindergarten I became too cool to play with babies and, sadly, I spent many of our school years alternately defending her from neighborhood bullies (yes, I'm looking at you Bobby McLean) and ditching her altogether.

During those years she learned, among other things, to cook and crochet and cross stitch. Sister became an excellent babysitter in her own right. Then she grew up to marry a musician and they made beautiful babies of their very own.

Now she is a fiber/textile/needlework artist. She shares her love of color with every creation she gifts to family and friends, and she teaches quilting classes whenever the occasion permits. I wish I had pictures to show you of the twenty-some quilt tops she currently has pieced and ready to sandwich. This picture of the "Dashing Off to Court" blankie she made for me about 10 years ago doesn't adequately represent her prodigious talent, but it will have to suffice:
Sister inherited the gene for choosing gifts that are exactly right and I must have been behind the door when they were handing that one out. Nevertheless:

Happy Birthday Baby Sister! I love you BIG.   


Warm Hands, Warm Heart

This handmade goodness has gone out into the world:
I promised I would afflict three unsuspecting folks during 2011 and this is the first dispatch. These are Toasty, fingerless mitts to keep hands and wrists warm while allowing fingers to roam free.

And in unrelated, but color-coordinated, news -- Mr. Last and I enjoyed filet tail and braised beef cheeks last night before walking out into this glorious sunset:


Orange You Glad I Didn't Say "Banana"?

How do you feel when I say "marmalade"?

Super easy. Slice one thin. Whirl slices in food processor.
Skin, pith, fruit, juice -- the whole enchilada, so to speak.

Add 2/3 cup of sweet white powder
Cook at rolling boil for about 15 minutes, stirring constantly
Et voila! mon cherie. You have made sweet sunshine for your toast
Good luck figuring out banana marmalade.
I have no clue on that one.


Fowl Humor

OK, I have no idea where the following originated. It was forwarded to my emailbox from someone to whom it was forwarded to, ad infinitum. But I have written before about my chicken thoughts here and here. Please enjoy the responses of some others the famous question:

Why did the chicken cross the road?  

SARAH PALIN: The chicken crossed the road because, gosh-darn it, he's a maverick!

BARACK OBAMA: The chicken crossed the road because it was time for change! The chicken wanted change!

JOHN MC CAIN: My friends, that chicken crossed the road because he recognized the need to engage in cooperation and dialogue with all the chickens on the other side of the road.

HILLARY CLINTON: When I was First Lady, I personally helped that little chicken to cross the road. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to ensure right from Day One that every chicken in this country gets the chance it deserves to cross the road. But then, this really isn't about me.

GEORGE W. BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.

DICK CHENEY: Where's my gun?

COLIN POWELL: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.

BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with that chicken.

AL GORE: I invented the chicken.

JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it.

AL SHARPTON: Why are all the chickens white? We need some black chickens.

DR. PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must first deal with the problem on this side of the road before it goes after the problem on the other side of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his current problems before adding new problems.

OPRAH: Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so badly. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a NEW CAR so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

NANCY GRACE: That chicken crossed the road because he's guilty! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.

PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

MARTHA STEWART: No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmer's Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider information.

DR. SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain, alone.

JERRY FALWELL: Because the chicken was gay! Can't you people see the plain truth? That's why they call it the 'other side' Yes, my friends, That chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the Liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless phrases like 'the other side.' That chicken should not be crossing the road. It's as plain and as simple as that.

GRANDPA: In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.

BARBARA WALTERS: Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish it's lifelong dream of crossing the road.

ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together, in peace.

BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken2010, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your checkbook. Internet Explorer is an integral part of eChicken2010. This new platform is much more stable and will never reboot.

ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?