Well, I’ve been busy since I last posted. And I was on vacation for a week in Yosemite (and a bit in Monterey) with Certain Someone and my parents, and there wasn’t really internet, so I’m going to say that that week doesn’t count. Anyway, I have a bunch of pictures to make up for it.
Above is Sentinel Dome, our destination for the major hike of our trip. We like hiking, but we’re not really what you’d call avid hikers, so this was about as strenuous as we got. (Both Mom and Certain Someone have wonky right knees, though Certain Someone’s is basically better now, and I had a stress fracture in my foot that sometimes twinges if I overdo it, so we try to keep to easy-moderate hikes of a couple of hours at most. Dad’s mostly fine, though, except for his tendency to walk backwards without looking where he’s going.)
We stayed at Yosemite Lodge, and probably a quarter mile or less behind it is a shallow, calm bit of the Merced River, so we walked back there on one of the days and made little boats out of bark and twigs and grasses. I gave one (eventually named Boomerang in frustration) an anchor of sorts to try to make the wind have less of an effect on it, but to no avail. The thing went a hundred feet then back upstream, blown by the wind. Ridiculous. Fun, though. Certain Someone and I wandered to the village and examined some shops after that – we each got a book at the Ansel Adams Gallery, and I wanted to buy stuff at the green store, because I’d like to support them, but it was all either jewelry (I make it, and don’t wear it), stuff that requires a flat surface to set it on (the house is under construction, and there is no flat space), or stuff that I could make. Damn.
The book was very good, though – it’s Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach. It’s what he calls a “political fiction,” rather than science fiction: he projects what would have happened if northern California, Oregon, and Washington had split away from the United States to form Ecotopia, and remained incommunicado for twenty years, after which an American reporter is sent to try to reopen communications and examine their lifestyle. The story is written in the form of the reporter’s stories sent home to New York and his diary entries, and is a very convincing portrayal of what could have happened if Ecotopia was formed and banned cars, doing everything to reduce pollution and emissions and live lightly on the earth. The only jarring points are a bit of rabid feminism (it was written in 1975), and the presence of typewriters. The other posited technologies all exist now, and their use seems realistic, though they are still little used today.
After about four days in Yosemite, we drove south to Monterey, stopping briefly to wine-taste at Thomas Cruse Winery in Gilroy. Tommy Cruse is quite mad, but he makes good wine, and Mom bought a case of various wines from him, including a dessert wine made from apricots (which Certain Someone and I though was delicious – it’s very sweet). Cruse also showed us a vat of in-progress apricot wine, and told us to try the nut that’s inside an apricot pit, though we declined – he said it made his tongue go numb. He also gave us a paper bag and the go-ahead to pick some apricots off his trees, which we did. We must have ended up with about thirty apricots, and discovered that leaving thirty pretty ripe apricots in a paper bag is a really good way to super-ripen them, creating mush. When we got home a couple of days later, Mom and I made apricot jam and apricot butter (like pumpkin butter) with the apricots. (Next post will include recipes and progress photos, since this one is long enough already.)
We were only in Monterey for about a day, so we didn’t have much time, but we did have the opportunity to stop in a couple of used bookstores. This time Certain Someone and I left with three books each. I finished one on the car ride back down the coast.
Getting home also allowed me to get back to my jewelry-making, and I finished the piece I’d almost completed before we left. I accidentally lumped a few seed beads together when I was packing up my last project, and the blue, silver, and copper seed beads abruptly reminded me of a Damascus sword blade. So I made a pattern to try to imitate the effect in seed beads, and I like to think I succeeded in some degree, though my hand-drawn pattern that swaps black and silver was mind-melting to follow.
The pattern from hell. It was almost impossible to keep track of where I was, even with the sticky marking my place. I got lost in it twice at least. Also, black is represented by pencil lines, and silver is represented by black ink lines, so I had to work to keep everything straight.
Damascus-inspired necklace in progress. And yes, that’s the top of a storage bucket I was working on.
The finished Damascus-inspired netted beadwork piece is now on my etsy here. I think my next foray will be into some ipad/ipod/iStuff covers made from felted wool sweaters from a thrift shop. Hopefully I’ll be able to show you some soon.
Well, I promised you garden photos, and I took some when I promised that but didn’t post them, so now you get a time-lapse from then to two days ago when I took the more recent ones. Stuff is popping up really well. We have kale, zucchini, spaghetti squash, crookneck (yellow) squash, radishes, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, mint, and lemon balm. We can already see some miniature zucchinis and crookneck squashes forming.
Two weeks ago (ish), when the garden was mostly a couple of scraggly kale plants (that big thing in front) and seedlings.
Time lapse! This is two days ago. Note the less scraggly kale on the right, the way-too-many radishes in the middle, randomly interspersed with a few spinach and lettuce, and the corn and zucchini-crookneck squash-spaghetti squash plants in back, with the giant leaves. There’s also a mint in front holding out from last year, and lemon balm in the lower right. Yummy.
No time lapse here, but this is the lemon tree.
Also, can anyone help me ID this plant? It’s a weed, it grows in sandy soil without much water, and it has blue-black berries when they’re ripe. I’ve also seen it at a construction site, so it may favor disturbed soil. Thanks!
See next post for apricot jam and apricot butter!