Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Enroute to his shack, Eric stumbled upon a fallen Yellow-rumped Warbler. In the space of minutes to travel to the house and back, this tiny carrion lay on the pathway. We examined the warm pliable body, the delicate intestines rudely exposed from a tear above the warbler's left leg.

Most likely a Cooper's Hawk swooped and punched this little bird. Ten minutes after taking these photos, Eric and I returned to an empty slab. Perhaps the hawk returned for her lunch. I will remember next time to look up and examine the trees to document these tiny tragedies.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Material Transformation: Quilts

I have wanted to make a quilt for most of my life. I remember as a young girl starting a quilting square. I had no access to a sewing machine, so the radial star with small blue flowers was completely hand sewn. The square sat. My aspirations grew. Although a quilt can be a simple process, the process intimidated me.

So I read about making a quilt. People who have done it. How to do it. And I studied quilts I saw. I pulled out materials I had on hand & placed them together to see how the patterns and colors would mix. I decided this Christmas, I will make my sons quilts. A simple quilt with large blocks of fabrics I had on hand.

And I thought and thought about it until December 21st hit. I jumped into action. The boys have a small bunk bed, so I sized the quilts to fit the bed without a lot of extra fabric that would hang down the side of a traditional bed. I cut multiple pieces in 15 inch widths. To size to the bed, one row would be nine inches in width. My fast approaching deadline quelled any over-thinking on the piecing (except for the decades of thought that went in to reaching my quilt making action potential). I made a diagram of how it would look and cut the pieces to length. To back the turn-quilts (no binding), I used mattress ticking and some chestnut drapery fabric I picked up at an impromptu yard sale in the Rite Aid parking lot down the street.

Making a quilt is like magic. You piece together fabrics & they magically transform into a blanket. I literally jumped up and down when I saw them together & giggled like a school girl who just had a disappeared coin pulled from her ear by a slight of hand illusionist.

The boys unfurled their quilts in thrilled delight.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Material at Hand

Transformation to follow.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Our Relationships with Trees


And fallen.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Gesture

The brown haired checker had already scanned half the contents of my grocery cart, including the champagne meant to be opened six days later, when I noticed my wallet was missing. To say wallet is a bit of a stretch. Coin purse might be more appropriate to describe the cloth stegosaurus-shaped zippered pouch. My real wallet had been stolen last year in sleepy Sierra Madre while I picked up my son from preschool. The blue ice of the shattered passenger window dusted the front seat where my purse rested not ten minutes prior. The stegosaurus pouch functioned as a wallet as I never bothered to acquire another one.

I informed Brian, his name tag read, of the situation. His eyes widened. I'm sure he's heard it all and more. I ran outside, searched my car, came back empty. Scrounging through my bag in hopes to find it hidden in the seams, I came up with a check to pay for my bubbly.

I retraced my steps. Back by the train station, scanning for an unlikely money pouch on the ground. Back in the bakery that sells delicious croissants. No, my dear, no wallet.

Back on the street. My chest starts to tighten, I accept that the zippered pouch containing money, driver's license, bank card and other magnetized plastic cards that grant access to money are gone. I call Eric and allow myself a brief cry. Then almost as quickly as the wave of dread crashed over me, I stood in the shallow calm eddies left in its wake. I thought of the Stoic diagram and realized the situation was beyond my control. I thought about the hands that would pick up the cloth stegosaurus and wished that the person who found it could really use it.

I set back for home to put away groceries and deal with the consequences of losing such a small pouch containing such complicated items. In my mind I run through the procedures: cancel bank & credit cards, set the wheels in motion for obtaining a new driver's license, make dinner.

Empty bellies take priority. As onions sizzle in a large pot, I notice a phone message. I listen, "Julia, my name's D.J. I think I have something you might be missing. You really need to call me back."

Yes, a kind woman named D.J. picked up my stegosaurus, found my business card inside and called me. Within the hour, I stood outside her dusty green door. "And here you are, Julia," D.J. said bright brown eyes taking me in, "I thought of you, looking at your picture."

I told her how I thought of the hands picking up my wallet and the blessing I sent to those hands. I didn't expect to get the wallet back. "I knew it was the right thing to do," she said. I reached into my wallet. I had an unusually large amount of money in it (for me) and gave her $80. She said, you don't have to do this. I know, I said, I want to do it. I also asked if maybe we might be able to meet up for a walk around the neighborhood sometime.

Monday, December 19, 2011

While We Were Out

Hello. All is well in Camp Ramshackle. I've been away from this space choosing sleep at the end of long full days instead of posting an update. School is on winter break. Love! We have been enjoying many cozy nights in front of the fire. Lots of firewood since the windstorm.

Holiday card outtakes by Eric.

I found it hard to pick a favorite.

Smiling all the way through in these full days.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Blustery Day

Downed Sycamore in Sierra Vista Park, the same tree that hosted the Cooper's Hawk mobbing

Last Wednesday night, the winds stood on end and raced down the canyons, reared up over the flat lands and established their presence with authority. Trees were uprooted, homes were crushed, branches were torn from trees and power lines were downed.

Sierra Vista Park, Sierra Madre

Sierra Madre, corner of Mountain Trail & Sierra Madre Boulevard

We fared very well at Camp Ramshackle. Our olive trees and one Toyon took a beating and lost many large limbs but no trees were completely downed; none hit the house. Everyone is safe.

A limb came uncomfortably close to the boys's bed room. Outside our own bedroom window while transformers exploded with green flashes that light up the dusty sky, Eric and I watched a large branch sail like a witch on a broom towards our window. The branch flew closer and closer, then dropped suddenly as if hit by a cosmic taser inches from the glass.

We are in the process of cleaning up the aftermath, but all-in-all, we did very well in the face of gale winds. I hope you and your families are safe and well too.