Showing posts from June, 2019

The Joys and Perils of Rearing Butterflies

For a number of years, Robb and I have been collecting the anise swallowtail caterpillars we find on our garden fennel and rearing them in a tank.  We do this to protect them from predation, and to bring a little bit of magic into our lives. For the past few years, we've kept the tank outside.  We have a really tiny house, and a box full of caterpillars takes up an awful lot of space. This may be a beneficial choice.  There's some indication that  monarch butterflies raised indoors by commercial hatcheries lose their ability to migrate, which means that those butterflies one buys to release at weddings or for school events may be doomed from the start.   The anise swallowtails we raise aren't migratory, but perhaps raising them outside may be better for them in ways we can't understand.   Or maybe I'm just fooling myself that there's any value in interfering in the natural order. Maybe I should leave well enough alone

On Oversharing

Back in 2006, I started this blog as a way of keeping friends and family updated on Robb's condition, as he recovered from a spinal cord injury. But I'd be lying if I said that this was the primary goal.  In truth, I started writing this blog as a way of protecting myself emotionally. I just could not bear to talk to every person who was concerned about Robb, and rehash all the same frightening details of his medical case.  Talking about it, over and over again, was tearing me apart. I needed to conserve my energy to deal directly with Robb's case. The blog was my much-needed shield. I could discuss the parts of Robb's recovery I was comfortable sharing. I could stay quiet about the things I considered nobody's business.  Folks who cared about Robb could feel connected. And I could avoid a lot of emotionally draining conversations at a time when I was totally exhausted, both physically and mentally. This blog helped keep me from losing my eq


Last week a large bough fell off our elderly plum tree, smashing our rhubarb patch and scattering unripe plums all over our vegetable garden. I was pretty distraught, because this was the first year in ages that our plum had produced fruit.  Was California's multi-year drought to blame?  Were we not getting enough winter chill hours, due to climate change?  Was our tree succumbing to old age?  I had no idea, but I really missed our delicious plums.  To see so may unripe fruit on the ground really stung. I did what any normal person would do.  I gathered up the smashed rhubarb and all the green plums, parked them in the kitchen and proceeded to ignore them. Robb baked several superb rhubarb cakes, using a recipe from S mitten Kitchen .  We shared cake with our neighbors. I ignored the plums. Miraculously the plums ripened on their own. And some started to get moldy, which meant I needed to get serious. I pulled out my various cookbooks, and tr

The Ups and Downs of a Seersucker Frock

  Last summer I bought some delicious seersucker fabric from  Discount Fabrics , my wonderful local independent fabric store.  It was a gauzy gingham, with the  distinctive ridged structure  of a seersucker weave. I had a vintage pattern, that I'd bought from my friend  Bethany  at her garage sale.  I was really interested in how this dress used striped fabric, on the diagonal bias for the bodice.  This seemed like a fun challenge, in my ongoing campaign to teach myself to make clothes using vintage sewing patterns. I may have gotten a little bit carried away with matching the pattern of the plaid in this fabric. But really, who wouldn't want to get this just right?  I can't be the only person who finds this kind of pattern-matching deeply satisfying. This dress has dolman sleeves, which were  a popular design feature in the 1950s .  The sleeves are part of the bodice, rather than being structured as separate tubes,

Because We All Need a Demented Kitty Skirt, Right?

What can I say about Smog?  I found him, almost dead, in the literal gutter.  He would stagger for about two steps, and then collapse.  But He Just Kept Going.  He's get back on his feet, stumble along for another step or two, before he'd collapse.  But But He Just Kept Going.   This cat has been through so much -- he was probably hit by a car and healed up all wrong before I found him -- but he never loses his goofy spirit.  Nothing stops this cat. He's not in the least bit heroic.  No.  Smog is a complete weirdo.  Look at that toothy grin, and those crazy eyes.  How can you not love a creature as strange this? So, when I saw this vintage novelty fabric on sale last year, I pounced.  Because, clearly, I needed a demented kitty skirt, to go with my demented kitty. I used every scrap of the fabric to make a Very Silly Skirt.  I found a remarkably close match to the cats' tongues, and used it for a waistband.   I'm