Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hello again...


Hope you each had a wonderful holiday season; once again, mine was calm, quiet, & understated (almost minimalist~ only a wreath on the door & the pre-lit tree with trimmed with a few bows & the Christmas cards we received). The gifts were practical~ gift cards all around, gas grill parts, a passenger side mirror housing, & Sam’s pocket-watch~ and the day relaxed; the guys picked up Jessica, then we went to the movies (Sherlock Holmes) & then out for Thai food. That’s right~ I did not cook. Just haven’t been in the mood.


This is vacation week for us & we decided to stay home again this year. We’ve been alternating between lazy days around the house, & some little day trips; Monday, we went to the newly opened Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, then did some exploring around the Presidio park, stopping at the National Cemetery, a couple of the former weapon batteries, & finishing at Inspiration Point before heading home for warm showers & hot soup (‘twas a tad chilly!)


 


 


 



 


Tomorrow, we’re going up as high in the mountains as we can get without snow chains (the PT Cruiser doesn’t have a set) to do some hiking & get our annual fill of snow; Saturday, we’re reuniting Jessica & her cat in San Jose, then possibly heading for the coast~ depends on what mood strikes.


Life toddles on along here much as always, but there are changes on the horizon which I am doing my best not to stress over. Actually, it has been fairly simple~ there is nothing I can do about any of it, so I have mentally put in a basket & handed over to the Father. He’s taken care of us from the beginning & I trust Him to continue to do so, but you know that every so often, I take one of those problems out, look at it from every side from least damage to worst case, until God brings me again to the realization that whatever the outcome, we will be all right & I can drop it back into the basket.


You all have a safe & blessed New Year’s celebration; I look forward to the adventures in store for us all in 2010.




 

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Wishes

Blessings from our home


to your family

May you find Joy in all things


Love from Meg's Garden

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Came across a great holiday game & giveaway; drop by & check it out, especially if you are a quilter or love someone who does!
Off to a cookie/gift exchange & knitting party~ promise I will be back by to post again soon.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks...


For the Bounty Before Us


The Beauty Around Us


The Love that Surrounds us


Happy Thanksgiving from Meg's Garden

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Weekday Escape


As I mentioned earlier, Chris & I have taken a few excursions with the advent of Autumn, arguably the best season weather-wise in our part of the country. A couple weeks back, he had Friday as one of his days off, so I took a personal holiday so we could visit a new/old attraction in San Francisco.


The California Academy of Science, along with the De Young Museum, have been the center pieces of Golden Gate Park for a number of decades, hosting scores of exhibits & innumerable schoolchildren on fieldtrips~ Chris & I both have memories of visits throughout grade school. Both building were severely damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake & limped along with patched up repairs for years, until it was determined that they needed to be rebuilt from scratch. In all honesty, I really dislike the design of the new De Young (which reopened in 2005 after 5 years); but the new C.A.S. is a wonder & we’ve been itching to see it since it reopened last year.



The most noticeable feature has to be the Living Roof~ 2 ½ acres of native plants growing over the undulating surface of the roof;



it was rather warm the day we were there & the wild flowers were past their prime, but the gentle breeze from the bay & the buzzing of insects made for a hypnotic visit.



We started in the Rainforest exhibit~ we walked up through four stories of plants, birds, & butterflies;



 



 



looking down into the water of the pond, you could see strange animals sitting on the bottom.



An elevator ride took us down to the new Steinhart Aquarium;



 



Chris & Ranger Ruth had some close encounters with really big fish!



Back on the main level, we entered the African Hall, which housed the classic dioramas from our childhood



 



& then on to the Morrison Planetarium~ where we both managed to doze off during the “Fragile Planet” presentation.



 



After lunch in the Atrium (yummy Spring Rolls & killer cheesecake) & a visit to the gift shop, we took the long way back to the car, hiking through a stand of coastal redwoods that reside in the park



 “It’s this direction~ I’m certain!”



The Park is one of my favorite places in California~ I’m drawn back again & again, finding both new & old sites in this wonderful urban escape; too bad it’s such a pain to drive in the City, otherwise I’d might make the trip more often.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

No,I haven't fallen off the planet...


Greetings for the great Wind Bowl of California; I’d wave, but I’d best hold on to this tree so I don’t blow away! Thanks to the remnants of a Philippine typhoon, we’ve had an early taste of winter this past week~ a drop in temperatures, driving rain, & of course, gale-force winds taking down trees all over. No major damage around the garden~ fences & furniture is intact, though the remains of the cucumbers & green peppers were flattened.


I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel work-wise; I’ve been working weekends for a couple months, but quarter-end & escheat reporting should be wrapped up in the next week, and my CEO told me that they are finally ready to hire a new accounting manager. YIPPEE!!! I doubt they will find and train someone by my next vacation (the week after Christmas), but it’s a relief to know I’ll have some help & backup in the future.


Good news on the Jessica front as well; instead of being homeless, she is now living & working back in San Jose. She was able to get on with Safe*way, at a brand new store near where she is living; the money is modest, but better than unemployment & it’s a union job with full benefits after her probation period. She seems to have lucked into a good roommate for a change, an “older” woman with a daughter away at college, so she’s being mothered & looked after~ or at least as much as she will allow (goodness knows where that independent streak came from!) We are fostering Violet the Cat again, but the transition has been a bit quieter this time; it only took a month for her to start joining us in the living room in the evenings, perched on tip-toe in my lap.


Chris is still working most weekends, but not the crazy-excessive hours of summer, so we’ve managed to slip away for a couple adventures over the past month (which I’ll be sharing shortly). This past Monday was a holiday for me & he had the day off, having worked the weekend; we lucked out big-time, scoring half-priced tickets for the King Tut exhibit at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. We had the first entry at 9:00 am, & actually had the gallery all to ourselves for about 15 minutes~ we had quiet & room to enjoy the gorgeous artifacts without bumping elbows or fussing children. We were done in just over an hour, since the rest of the museum is closed on Mondays, & took a leisurely hour stroll around the Botanical Gardens & Arboretum pausing for a picnic snack, & to watch one of the many tai chi groups practicing in the park. Since the rain was threatening to start, we headed back towards home before noon, stopping off for lunch at Mimi’s CafĂ©; a restful day was capped off by a quiet nap with the cats & grilled cheese sandwiches for supper.


Time to sign off & pay attention to my novel, before it has to go back to the library on Tuesday; this is how I know I’ve been working too much~ I’ve only read 8 books since June!


 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Apologies

To my friends and visitors~ you may have read an errant post or received a questionable email in my name; this was not my doing! Evidently, my email and blog sign in have been hacked and were used to send spam to my address book and post an entry here, which in turn was posted to my FB account.
I am in contact with MSN and Blogger to rectify the breach, so hopefully this won't happen again.
Again, my apologies for the rude intrusion.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hitting the Trails


In our little corner of the world, August and September are extremely hectic~ aside from the annual scramble at both our jobs (Chris, the end of vacation season; me, the semi-annual escheat reporting) and the start of school, with the requisite supplies and paperwork, we observe both Chris’ birthday and our wedding anniversary. Those events tend to be skimmed over on the actual days~ a kiss and a wish as we pass each other in the kitchen, but not much else.


This year has been much the same~ just the added excitement of our baby boy starting local community college (with concurrent transportation disarrangement) and the stress of frequent (and so far fruitless) house hunting. One difference was that Chris actually had a couple Saturdays off, so we took advantage one morning a couple weeks ago to check out a new-to-us regional park.


Briones Regional Park is a secluded little gem of hiking trails, tucked in near a large reservoir; there is not much in the way of development~ no snack bars, gift shops, or even ranger stations~ just picnic tables, restrooms, and miles of paths and trails through grassland, trees, and hilltops. Before tackling the “easy” Old Briones Road to Crescent Ridge loop, we brought a picnic lunch to share in the shade (it was still pretty warm, but not scalding), and then donned backpacks with some water bottles, camera, and our new little mascot, Ranger Ruth.


 



 


I first was introduced to the tiny Ranger crew by my friend, Junie Moon, who wrote about her travelling companion, Park Patty; I loved the idea and went online to invite a Ranger to train and travel with us as we explore.


 



 


The 2 ½ mile loop first took us along a tree-lined road, which then led through a valley filled with grazing land, where we had a little adventure. We strolled past a number of cows with their calves; apparently, this pair thought we were fascinating, because they began to follow us, pursued by their vigilant mother.


 



 


After about a quarter mile, they were distracted by the creek and wandered away from the path, but Momma continued to trail along behind us and started to become vocal~ I was wondering if she was lecturing us for leading her children astray. Looking forward, we could see another cow standing across the road, looking intently at us and making a grunting noise; this is the point we realize that this wasn’t a cow, but a bull~ and we were standing between him and one of his harem. We had several tense minutes as we stood stock-still in the road and scoped out escape routes in case he lost his temper; fortunately, the day was becoming warm and the creek was a more attractive destination then chasing a couple humans across the fields, though the bull continued to verbally abuse us as he headed off.


The next segment of the hike was up a steep trail leading to the ridge; happily, it was completely shaded by the trees, but remained a challenging climb~ I’d take 75 to 100 steps, and then rest a couple minutes to catch my breath. The pay-off was a large live oak to rest under and this stunning view.


 



 



 


We refreshed ourselves with apples, crackers, and lots of water, before tackling the trail down the other side and back to our car. As we packed up to leave, a very weary and well-behaved German Sheppard plopped herself down in the shade of the tree to wait for her companions; we met them several yards down the trail~ the first people we had seen all afternoon~ and it turns out it was a couple men that Chris knew through work! They hadn’t seen each other for some time, so we stood on the road for 15 minutes while they caught up on work and local news, until the strong sun sent us all off in search of shade.


 



 


We wended our way down another steep grade, past the Archery Club grounds, across a meadow and creek, and back around to the picnic area, parking lot, and thankfully, the restrooms.


 



 


All and all, it was a nice day, and I look forward to going back~ though most likely, we’ll wait until Spring when the hills will be green and the temperatures quite a bit cooler!


 

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Melon has landed


Our first Persian melon came off the vine this weekend…though not intentionally.


You see, I went out the other morning to test if it was ready~ it should come unfastened from the stem when it is properly ripe, so I put on my green gauntlets (remember the rabbit protectors?), reached down gingerly through the scratchy vines, & heaved it up (it’s the size of a basketball & at least 15 pounds) to see if it would come loose. I was bent over, the melon about 18 inches from my chest, when a half-dollar sized black widow jumped out from the underside straight for my face! I yelped, reared back, & simultaneously dropped the melon over the side of the raised planter, snapping the stem & barely missing Dahlia who had come to “help”, and bolted for the house screaming “RAAAAID!!!”


Sam came running to the rescue clad only in boxer shorts, armed with a pellet gun & a spray can of bug killer (don’t ask me~ it must be a guy thing); unfortunately for him, the falling melon did the job before he could, but he was kind enough to extricate the cat from under the potting table & clean off any “residue” from the fruit before bringing it inside the house.


I sliced & served half of the melon with breakfast, but not before Chris christened it:


 

Friday, July 31, 2009

Winding up the month...

July simply slipped away on us~ blink twice and it was over.

The heat has broken for the time being, which means a pleasant weekend ahead; we’ll be celebrating Chris’ birthday (47 years old and doesn’t look a day over…48), attending another wedding (nothing for 3 years, now every third weekend we’re attending one), and hopefully spending some time with my knitting group~ work has really been getting in the way lately.

Some significant things have come up~ I’m just not ready to blog too much about them

b As of last night, the merger is off; I’m still processing the information, so I’m not certain how I feel about it yet~ could be a good thing in the long run.

b Jessica is soon to be homeless again; I know how I feel about this, so I have to let it go and turn it over to God.

b My former husband is getting married again. Surprising would be an understatement~ five years ago, he stated emphatically “Never again!”(his second marriage was horrible), but that was before his mother died. I wish him all the joy and happiness a good marriage can bring.

b We’ve begun the process of buying our own house; this is a dream too dear to my heart, and my nature too flipping superstitious, to share much here~ although prayers would be greatly appreciated.

b I quietly joined Weight Watchers this week~ very personal stuff for me, so enough said.

The garden faired pretty well through the last heat wave~ I have a steady flow of cucumbers, the occasional zucchini that makes a surprise appearance- seemingly out of nowhere- but the tomatoes, beans, and lemons are a bust this year. We are still waiting for the first Persian melon to be ready, but I’ve found 3 more in various stages of development~ I’m very excited to try my first home-grown fruit, though I’m a bit worried about the vine taking over what little backyard we possess.

I’ve taken my next steps into home canning~ we were gifted with bags of apricots and peaches, so I’ve been attempting low-sugar jam. The results have been mixed, but all tasty~ the pantry shelf and refrigerator are sporting pints of colorful goodies for the family, from soft apricot preserves to basically peach syrup (not that anyone is complaining that much). I’m looking forward to apple season and perfecting my chunky applesauce~ the last batch only made it to early January.

All this old-time domestic activity is a constant source of consternation and humor for my mother~ she cannot understand how a child raised in Berkeley in the 70’s, by progressive, liberal, and feminist-leaning parents, finds such fascination and contentment in homey activities like gardening and knitting. I think I pushed her over the edge when I voiced my interest in raising backyard chickens~ there was a significant stretch of silence, either from stifling the urge to laugh or struggling to form a polite response, before she could reply “Your grandmother would’ve been proud.”

I think that’s almost the nicest compliment I’ve ever received.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Summer lumbers on...

July has brought milestones, twists, celebrations, and goodbyes in the Garden.


Sam enrolled in community college (my baby!) and is looking forward to his classes (though not the hour bus ride each way)


We attended the reception ball for two of our fellow dancers on the 4th of July


video



but missed the fireworks while having dinner with friends


The negotiations for the merger continue, so things are still a bit unsettled at work~ I do my best to focus on still having a job in a state with 11% unemployment.


The garden is beginning to produce after a very slow start



we've been enjoying Armenian Curl cucumbers



and the occasional crook-neck or zucchini squash


four tomatoes were planted this year, though only one is really flourishing



and we'll have our first Persian melon in the next week



Poppy peruses the bush beans



but Dahlia goes straight to sampling the grapevines



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Yesterday morning, I sat down to read Thursday's paper with my cuppa, and the day came to a screeching halt. As I was flipping through the pages, a face in the obituaries caught my eye~ curiosity turned to shock when I realized that it was Doug, my first boyfriend. Thirty years rolled away and I started to cry; I was fourteen, he was eighteen, the brother of my friend, and we met at square dancing. He gave me his class ring, which I wore proudly on a chain around my neck, and introduced me to Motown, flea markets, roller coasters, and escargot. He hurt my pride, rather then my heart, when we broke up, but we remained friends nevertheless. Doug was like that~ fickle, funny, and a friend to everyone.


It was a God-thing; the memorial was being held that afternoon in the Bay Area and I had a floating holiday coming to me. I was able to attend, paying my respects to his family and saying goodbye to the sweet boy of my memory; the most poignant thing for me was seeing his dance shoes next to his photo. A good number of the former Young Rebels (our teen square dance/clogging club) were in attendance; we spent the dinner renewing friendship and sharing memories from a lifetime ago, parting with email addresses and pledges to get together for a reunion event.


I do hope that won’t be the end of it, but too often it takes events like this to bring us together again.



Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Now I know what a muffin feels like...


Looks like the whirlwind that is my life has died down for the time being, for which I am quite grateful.


I’ve been putting in 50-hour weeks, taking work home, & generally ruminating on whether or not I’ll still be employed come January. Add to the mixture unrelenting early summer heat (four of the past eight weeks have seen temps from 95° to 115° F) and a barely functioning A/C at work, and you have me, dragging my abused carcass home every evening, shedding all unnecessary clothing, and collapsing into a chair for some mindless television watching or in front of the computer playing a totally addictive FB game. Doesn’t that sound like so much fun?


Good news has come along~ all indications are that our institution will remain viable, albeit under the control of another company, and the employees have been assured of their continued employment. Well, 99% assured~ I’m told the language of the agreement is necessarily ambiguous to allow for weeding out unsuitable staff members. So now the real work begins~ six months or more of reporting, investigating, sorting, transferring, logistical planning, and extensive interviews, before I can settle into a new work environment and team. I am cautiously optimistic about the opportunity, though it’s tough for most accounting-type geeks to embrace wholesale changes to our routines.


So, amid all this stress and uncertainty, we have managed to have a little fun. My mother surprised me by changing her plans and attending Sam’s graduation after all; I believe a little bird, in the guise of my older brother, let her know that I was really quite upset about her missing this important family event (even though I would never say anything about it). She was at her charming and lucid best, sharing anecdotes and photos with us all~ here is a shot of my parents together, more than 45 years after their divorce


 



They’ve seen each other only about a dozen times over those years, usually at a big family event (I think the last time was after Sam’s birth), and have always been friendly~ I think they had a good time together, with no spouses or responsibilities, to indulge in walks down memory lane.


We had an open house BBQ the evening of graduation, very relaxed and low maintenance, with the family and most of Sam’s friends drifting in and out,



 



 


until they headed off to the Safe and Sober Mystery Night, sponsored by the Senior Parents’ Club. There are no pictures of the event~ no one wanted to risk their cameras around the go-carts, bumper boats, & mechanical bull~ but this is what remained of Sam the next morning


 


 


Poor puppy had been going full bore for most of eighteen, emotionally charged hours, after coming off two weeks of finals; I believe he slept about 12 hours Sunday, as well as all of the drive to and from Yosemite on Monday.


Chris and I managed to have an afternoon alone on Father’s Day~ Sam was nursing his annual beginning-of-summer-vacation cold and opted to stay home. After breakfast and church, we drove east into the valley, stopping first at Lavender Hollow Farms; I had been telling him about it since the Garden Club outing there last spring and we lucked out that they were still opened for the season.


 



We wandered about, Chris poking his head into every open door he could find, and left with a couple plants to start building our collection; someday, when we have a house of our own, I’m going to plant a bank of lavender, in all shapes and sizes, both for the fragrance and the beneficial bees that will come to work in my garden.


 


 


We followed the road along until we reached Oakdale and the famous Cheese Factory. Whenever we’ve driven by in the past, it’s either been on our way to an event with no time to stop, or on our way back to town, when all we want is to get home. This time, we were ready for some lunch


 


 



Instead of the “loaf of bread, jug of wine, and thou”, we opted for a round of foccacia, a tub of pesto quark, and a bottle of sasparilla, since we were driving and it was getting a bit warm


 


 


seated in this park-like area, with the petting zoo animals as company.


We poked along home, stopping at roadside farm stands (scored 20 ears of sweet corn for $2.00!) and admiring the fruit-laden apricot orchards. It was probably Chris’ last relaxing weekend until September; his busy season is in full swing and he’s currently on six days a week with a short staff.


Speaking of relaxing, it’s time for me to toddle off to my recliner and work on my knitting; I have a cardigan two-thirds done for myself and need to cast on some cotton washcloths and market bags, as well as a child’s sweater for a new-to-me charity project, Warm Woolies. Hope you enjoy a cool, comfortable week~ it’s not looking good around here, but at least the A/C is working again!