Monday, October 20, 2014

Vegetable Bed? Sounds Perfect for a Nap!


My poor garden.  I was swamped with work all summer, and of course we're still in the midst of a drought. I should have pulled out all my summer plants and put in their autumn replacements. But I'm running horribly behind.

This weekend, Robb and ran out to Pollinate Farm and Garden, our favorite urban farm store.  We picked up a few plants (Victoria rhubarb!!!) and seeds, snuggled the shop cat, and chatted with Birgitt, one of the owners.  It's always a delight to stop in to Pollinate, those ladies know their stuff and the store is cozy and neighborly.

I dug up the vegetable bed, or at least I dug up part of it.  I really need to be ruthless, and just clear the place out.  But I'm a weirdo and tend to leave out-of-place plants in place, which only leads to garden chaos later on. 

Robb and I also went to the native plant sale that benefits Friends of Sausal Creek, a local organization that works to protect that watershed of one of Oakland's creeks.

While there, I got to chatting with some folks from Native Bird Connections, a nearby group that works with non-releasable wild raptors to further awareness of the importance of wild animals in our world.  I'd love to get to know more about this group.

It was a very garden-themed weekend, because in addition to all this, Robb and I went to the Autumn Lights Festival which was a massive art installation that benefited the various gardens around Lake Merritt.  Our friend Sarah Lowe had a particularly lovely piece -- illuminated paper lanterns that resembled gigantic ground-cherries.  Very nice!

Smog, it would seem, finds all this garden activity exhausting.  He would like me to quit mucking around in his dirt, so that he can get back to the serious work of napping.

How about you? Did you do any garden work this weekend?  Or would you like to read about what other gardeners are up to?  (If so, click here.)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Back Again, By Request.


The blog has been quiet, because there hasn't been a whole lot of happy news to report.

Sad news notwithstanding, at some point, one just has to get on with one's life.  At least, a little bit at a time.  In my case, I've resumed work on this knitting project, a re-creation of a vintage cardigan.

I had asked the legions of knitters on Ravelry if they had any insight into the origins of this garment.  Experts on vintage knitwear agreed that it was almost surely a bed-jacket, a garment that has been supplanted by the ubiquitous hoodie. 

Or perhaps the bed-jacket has been rendered obsolete by the use of central heating. 

Our little 1925 bungalow lacks central heating, which is not as dire as it sounds.  We bundle up with wool, and are saving our pennies for an eventual upgrade.  No central heat in Northern California is not the same as no central heat in most of the rest of the country.

I'm amused by the photos on this booklet of knitting patterns.  I imagine the model on the left is sniffing eau-de-cologne, but it does rather looks like she's about to take a swig out of her flask bottle of gin.

The picture on the right is quite similar to what I'm knitting. The lace pattern seems to be the same, and the yoke shares characteristics with my garment.

What's interesting to me is that the yarn companies that published these patterns would apparently recycle these patterns.  A pattern published in the 1930s or 1940s might re-surface in the 1950s or 1960s.   In fact, the name of the pattern that most resembles my project goes by the name "Back Again, By Request."

Back Again.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Revolution -- from Lisa's Point of View


Thanks to the support of all our friends and family, our BORP Revolution ride was a huge success.  Every year, I wish that every one of you could have joined us. And every year, I feel like I fail to adequately express the magic of this event.

Every year, I take some version of this photo, and every year it just looks like chaos.  I'm trying to convey the size of our part of the ride, the crazy variety of human-powered vehicles, and the rambunctious spirit.  All those things conspire to make a particularly crappy photo, so you'll have to take my word for it:  being part of this slightly crazed armada of adaptive cyclers and their friends is a blast!  The machines -- while incredible -- are nowhere near as impressive as their riders.  Talk about spirited!  These people ROCK.

And then there's the landscape. It's a huge part of what makes this ride so special.  Sonoma County is simply beautiful.

The vineyards are lovely.  I never tire of looking at the rows of vines, spread across the soft hills. Something about this kind of agriculture really speaks to me.

It is interesting to return year after year, and observe different stages of the harvest.  We've ridden past this particular vineyard many times, but I don't recall seeing the grape clusters hanging down like this before.  This particular field always makes me smile, because the variety of grape and the rootstock that it's grafted to are both neatly labeled. The rootstock -- Teleki -- is the family name of one of my father's best friends.  Seeing these grapes reminds me of my father's circle of buddies.  They had been childhood friends in Hungary, and each fled their homes as political refugees.  Decades later, they were still fast friends, getting together regularly to play cards and crack jokes.  I'm a bit wistful about all that, as I cannot begin to imagine having that kind of life-long friendship.

Robb and I cycle at different rates. He climbs up hills very slowly.  If I were to try to match his pace, my bike would fall over.  And because his trike is so stable, he descends like a freaking maniac.  I still remember opening the door to my sister after she had flown over her handlebars and cracked her jaw open on the street.  That sort of thing burn itself onto one's brain, and thus, I am not inclined to go flying down the hills.  I'm a bit too aware of how badly I could get hurt if I hit a patch of gravel or a pothole.

As a result of our uneven pacing, Robb and I spend quite a bit of our rides waiting for each other.  I try to find a shady spot, that's safe from traffic and potentially photogenic.  I ride with an SLR camera strapped across my chest.  About two thirds of the way through this ride, there's a long climb. I take my camera off and stash it in my bike basket.  And with all that weight off my chest, I ride a lot stronger.

Everyone finds their own pace on this ride.  So many riders.  So many different levels of ability.  It does tend to spread us all out.  And that's fine.  It's nice to ride on uncrowded country roads.

There wasn't a cloud in the sky today, so all of my photos are terribly contrasty.  That's Robb. Really it is.

And here's a rare photograph of the two of us together.  I have almost no photos of myself since Robb's accident.  Considering how long ago that was at this point, I find that fact very strange.

I should probably point out the hand-cyclist who is sprouting out of our heads. We sat with her for part of the post-ride festivities.  She's a total badass.

Did every single person who passed this barn make barnyard animal noises, as they read this sign aloud?  Do you have any doubt that Robb and I bleated the name of our president?

OHH BAA MAA.  (You said it, didn't you?)

It is entirely delightful to cycle through this beautiful agricultural region.  Vineyards, olive groves, orchards.  All beautiful.

Did we sample some of the wild grapes, growing in the ditches?  Of course we did.  Likewise the windfall fruit.  I won't steal fruit off anyone's plants, but I'm not ashamed to pick food up off the ground.

This was the part of the ride I was dreading the most. The long climb to the graveyard.  Nothing metaphoric about that, huh?

I've been sick for weeks with a lingering sinus thing, and before that I was working insane hours.  I thought I was in no shape to do this ride, and fully expected to find myself plodding up this hill, pushing my bike as I trudged along side it.

As it turned out, we surprised ourselves.  The hill was not as difficult as we had remembered it being.  We had a good laugh about how we expected to suck, and failed to live up to our own expectations.  And then Robb rode down that hill at thirty-six miles an hour.


The Revolution ride begins and ends at a winery.  There's food and drinks and glorious massages and speeches.  This may be the first year that I didn't shamelessly cry during the speeches.

And just as we were leaving we noticed this unexpected rainbow.

Oh, how I wish you all could have joined us for this wonderful day!  You would have loved it.

(And if you wanted to donate, but hadn't.  There's still time.  Click here!)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Today, We Ride!

Think good thoughts for us, y'all. Today is the day of the BORP Revolution ride!

I'm personally woefully unprepared, because I have been -- and still am -- sick with some kind of sinus ick. I haven't done nearly the amount of riding I'd like to have done, and I'm sure I'll suffer for that. Oh well… life is all about overcoming adversities, isn't it?

So, thank you everyone who has supported this great cause. Thank you especially Anonymous. We love you!  If you still want to give a little something in support of this wonderful organization, please click here.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Why We Ride


Here's a lovely video about our upcoming fundraising ride, and the great organization that it supports.

I want to thank all of our friends and family who have supported our fundraising efforts this year, and all the other years we've done this event.  If you haven't donated, and can possibly spare even a few bucks, it would make a real difference in the life of someone living with disabilities.

Click here for more info.

And look for Robb at 1:22 and throughout.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Of Flocks and Philanthropy


For the past few weeks, our rapidly growing chickens have spent the day outside in a mobile pen.  The big girls can see them, as can the cats.  The big chickens seemed interested in the smaller birds.  The cats were totally uninterested in the birds, but liked to snooze on top of the pen.  Mighty predators, indeed.

This weekend, Robb and I decided to see what would happen if we let the little chickens out into the wider world.

We locked Smog in the house, because all he wants to do is play Chase Me, and while he finds that game hilariously amusing, almost nobody else does.  We figured we didn't need to stress out the little birds by allowing Smog to chase them around the yard.

The smaller birds stuck close together, but weren't at all nervous around the larger flock.   Don't they look tiny next to Isabella?

Harriet, who was supposed to raise them and failed so miserably seemed only mildly interested.

I imagine them shouting "You're not our Real Mom!"

The most absurd part of the all this was when all the big girls squeezed into the pen and gorged themselves on baby food. 

We still have to figure out how to integrate the little birds into the sleeping arrangements in the henhouse.  At the moment, I'm still catching them and bringing them in for the night.  I'm hoping we can get this sorted out this week, because Robb and I are going out of town for our annual fundraising ride this weekend.  I'd rather not burden a pet-sitter with chicken-catching duties.

And speaking of which, we have not quite met our fundraising goal for the BORP ride.  I've been sick, dragging around with some kind of sinus problem.  I have enough energy for work, but not much else. 

Every year, Robb and I participate in a fundraising ride that benefits the Bay Area Outreach Recreation Program (BORP), a wonderful organization that provides recreational activities and mentoring for people with disabilities. BORP was a great resource for us when Robb was first recovering from his spinal cord injury, and we think they do particularly wonderful work with severely disabled children.

If you could spare even a small amount, we'd be hugely appreciative.  Click here for more information.  And thank you.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Falconry, Revisited


Back in March, Robb and I took a falconry class. It was a huge amount of fun.

However, I don't think the instructors knew what to make of us.  The class turned out to be very much geared toward hunting, and Robb and I are career vegetarians.  I just wanted to work with the birds, to fly them, and let them express their birdness.  I wasn't so interested in making them hunt rabbits on my behalf.

Summer came, and I got terribly busy with work.  Thoughts of further falconry classes languished.

Until now.

Our young chickens may be perfect candidates for my vision of backyard falconry.  I could use chard and spinach instead of quail chunks to teach them to trust me. 

I really think I'm on to something, here.


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