mojave calling

While Hashi put up the tent, K got the fire going

Our beautiful campsite

Desert Globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)

Hole-in-the-Wall Rings Trail

Beavertail Cactus (Opuntia basilaris)

Untitled

Hedgehog cactus

Untitled

Banshee Canyon

It’s becoming an April tradition, the birthday camping trip. Last year we went to Los Padres National Forest. The year before to Death Valley. This time, we went to Mojave (Mo-hah-vee, for you Australians) National Preserve and camped at Hole-in-the-Wall.

Ah, desert. I love its muted tones and barren vistas and surprising splashes of colour. It whispers ancient secrets that I cannot quite understand, but that I want to slow down and strain to hear. Despite the dust, it leaves me feeling cleansed in some way. It is the opposite of frenetic and riotous, the opposite of Los Angeles. There is no hurrying to be done in the desert.

We had such a lovely time. Except for when the wind got fierce in the night, and our tent became a flapping flailing beast for hours on end, and The Guy resorted to sleeping in the car. THAT part wasn’t fun. But the rest, the hiking and exploring and cooking and staring at the fire. Yep, that was all perfect, and exactly right for a birthday trip. I’m a happy girl.

wherever you go, there you are

IMG_2845

Today I went before a judge along with a dozen others, and changed my name. It was anachronistic to be in court – an environment that’s usually fraught with negative emotions – and be surrounded by happy people. There were no losers in that room; we were all pretty delighted. It reminded me of how the maternity ward is the only one in the hospital that’s full of joy, not sorrow. And in some ways, it felt like a (re)birth.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 8.47.14 PM

Later my buddy Clif sent me this picture, captioned “Wherever you go, there you are.” It made me laugh, and feel doubly glad that I now share initials with my lovely mama. The Guy, witty punster that he is, commented that “Running Water” should now be my native name.

Yeah, I’ll go with that. What’s not to love?

not even the king



Some people so poor all that they got is money.

Love love love.

february makes

Lola_lavender1

Lola_lavender2

My dear friend Lola loves the smell of lavender, so I made her a set of sachets for her birthday. (Quite a few ladies got these for Christmas, too.) Simple and sweet, with a loop long enough for a clothes hanger if so desired.

Cali_three_dresses

Cali_grey_jacket

And then Miss Cali Hashi turned two, prompting a trio of jersey dresses and a little Aster Cardigan to go with them all.

Felix_alien_shirt

Cali_alien_dress

When I heard she was having an alien/space birthday party, I whipped up a tshirt for her brother Felix to wear at the celebration. But why should he be the only one in alien garb? Cali obviously needed yet another dress, to match the birthday theme.

Untitled

Then there was some very utilitarian sewing: blackout curtains and a ‘cozy’ for the electric saw. Projects like this aren’t exactly thrilling, but still provide their own satisfaction.

Coming up in March: Sew The Perfect Fit with Lynda Maynard on Craftsy. Wish me luck.

morro bay getaway

Morro Bay Morro Rock from the Elfin Forest

Natal bottlebrush (Greyia sutherlandii)

Twisted oak trunks in the Elfin Forest #elfinforest #morrobay #lososos

Azure Bush Germander (Teucrium frutican azureum)

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Just spent a couple of days exploring the back roads of the Central Coast with the Guy + dog. So much green. Wildflowers out early. Horses and bunnies and turkey vultures. We had a beer at Parkfield on the San Andreas Fault. We drove over the Santa Lucia Range from inland to Big Sur, and descended into an ocean of cloud. We visited the Leaning Pine Arboretum and discovered new plants. We earmarked lots of places for future exploration and adventures. I love the way every experience begets more; there is no end to the wonder of this world.

a week of walking quietly

Untitled

Smile, breathe and go slowly. ~ Thích Nhất Hạnh

Growing up, Mum used to tell me I was ‘like a bull at a gate’. As I’ve matured, I’ve definitely slowed down, but I still tend towards the clumsy, noisy end of the spectrum. I stride. I clatter. I stub my toes.

For the past week, I’ve been paying more attention to my physical interactions with the world. I’ve been trying to be very very quiet. Not there’s-a-murderer-in-the-next-room stealthy. More like there’s-a-sick-child-lightly-sleeping-beside-me. I’ve felt just a tiny bit ninja. And it’s been fun.

Being quiet means going slower. It means looking where I’m about to put my hands, my feet. It means focusing on what I’m actually doing, how I’m actually moving. And this act of attention has rippled through to

    ~single tasking (e.g. not reading while eating)
    ~unclenching my teeth
    ~eating more slowly
    ~driving more alertly
    ~talking less
    ~gaining a little core strength, maybe. It takes engaged muscles to walk quietly.

A week is not nearly enough time for this to be engrained as a habit. It’s definitely a practice, one I have to return to many many times a day. I have no desire to be invisible, but I actually like being a little bit ninja. It’s a very gentle thing, to move quietly through the world, instead of clattering and banging. It feels like a kindness, both to myself and those around me.

Maybe you’d like to try it too, and tell me how it goes.

To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work. ~ Mary Oliver

january makes

Rhea-papercut-before-after

It’s been more than a year since my last papercut portrait. They are somewhat time-consuming and hard on the hand, but I absolutely love the result. I swiped a favourite pic off Rhea’s instagram feed and made this as a birthday gift for her. The one I made for the Guy was three colours (not including the background); this one is four. I like the extra detail that the fourth tone allows.

Untitled

Untitled

The Guy and I leave notes to each other daily, as we keep very different circadian cycles. We’ve nearly filled an 80 page sketchbook, so I made another to have ready. Unlike the Christmas journals which were case bound, this one employs coptic stitch. I really enjoy book binding; it combines my loves of paper and sewing, and the finished product is tactile, useful, and beautiful. Can’t wait to start using this.

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

And of course, there was sewing. Inspired by this tutorial, I made a chess set for a favourite soon-to-be-9 yr old. I bought the bottle caps on ebay, and drew the icons with an ultra fine sharpie before sealing them with polymer medium. I made small and medium-sized drawstring bags; one for the bottle caps, another to hold the whole shebang, folded up.

There was a lot more gift-making in January, but reveals will have to wait until the recipients open them. And there was a big fat shirt-making fail, but I’ll post those pictures another day, hopefully when I actually have success with garment-fitting.

psa

IMG_1450

My dermatologist is a very gentle man. His voice is soft, his touch light. I gladly submit to his scrutiny each year, grateful for his eyes on the parts of me I cannot easily see.

Two years ago he excised a spot on my left shoulder blade. This week he made a matching scar on my right.

Did you know that one in every three cancers diagnosed globally is a skin cancer?

Some individual risk factors are:
~ fair skin
~ blue, green or hazel eyes
~ light-coloured hair
~ tendency to burn rather than suntan
~ history of severe sunburns
~ many moles
~ freckles
~ a family history of skin cancer

Except for blonde hair, I have all of the above.

Educate yourself. Check your skin. And get someone trusted to look where you cannot. Melanoma can appear anywhere, even places that are never exposed to the sun. And it’s a really really sucky way to die.

End of public service announcement.

it all feels right

It’s my first evening alone in my new home.

Just me and the ocean and the mourning doves. Oh, and the dog and two cats, of course.

No need to cook dinner, snacks will do. The upcoming weekend plans have radically simplified, so there’s no need to prep, to pack, to clean. (The Guy did a bunch of cleaning today, I can see that. So we’re good.)

I water the plants, and take photos from new angles. I stand on the cliff’s edge, watching the pelicans fly home, and let my shoulders drop as the waves crash in. No need to hold the world up.

Sometimes I wonder what I am doing, why I am here. In this place, in this life. Do you ever wonder that, or do you know the answer, without question?

Tonight I listen to the ocean, and the doves, and it all feels right.

Oh my, I needed this.

pretend he’s got eight legs

tulips

tina

salad

bookgroup

Third Wednesday is book group, which means dinner beforehand at Tina’s, one of the highlights of my month. She has the perfect touch in the kitchen, crafting wonderful meals from simple ingredients. Her home is quiet, calm, beautiful. There, I exhale.

We then spend a couple of hours with the erudite folks in our intellectual book group, whose breadth of scholarship far exceeds mine. I’m a relative newcomer to this decades-old cadre of literature-lovers, and I’m still re-learning how to read for criticism, not just for pleasure. Thus I’m frequently quiet at these meetings, having few unique insights on the month’s book, though I’m delighted to absorb the percipience of others.

But tonight I had plenty to say about Paul Theroux’s The Mosquito Coast, having once been married to a man somewhat like Allie Fox, and having gone off with him ‘into the wilderness’ with a baby in tow, long ago. I well know the charm of a charismatic apocalyptist. The motives and fears of the nameless mother in the story excited a little passion in me. And who can deny the truth in some of Allie’s words?

We eat when we’re not hungry, drink when we’re not thirsty. We buy what we don’t need and throw away everything that’s useful. Why sell a man what he wants? Sell him what he doesn’t need. Pretend he’s got eight legs and two stomachs and money to burn. It’s wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Afterwards, our elderly French matriarch approached and took my hands, asking more questions about my life and saying how glad she was to know me. I felt awkward and a little abashed. I’m not comfortable in the spotlight, but it did feel good to make a contribution. I slipped away home as quickly as I could.

Tomorrow I go back to my job in advertising, helping to sell a man what he doesn’t need. Returning to homesteading sounds pretty good right now.

%d bloggers like this: