Saturday, December 29, 2012

Notions: I Don't Give a Pin!

Pincushion Gal Helps Keep Me
Enchanted By Sewing
But Darling, we can't have your mother to stay. We're going to the country this weekend.

Oh fiddledeedee, I don't give a pin about going to the country!

You don't hear people complaining that they .... don't give a pin! for something anymore. Usually a more vehement expression is used to express disinterest in a companion's speech or interests. I suppose it's because pins aren't worth much anymore, though you can still find references to people paying for things using pins in the delicious Betsy and Tacy books. And how many people do you know who refer to their pin money these days?

I love my new friend, Pincushion Gal. Mostly she's content hanging out behind my sewing machine, but she has been known to go visiting as far as the ironing board. At first I kept knocking her over, because her heavier torso was supported by a rather frail little base. After a confab with my husband we came up with a solution to that little challenge. I stitched up a little sack of dried beans, using the end of a piece of flannel from the night shirt I'd just made him (another good reason to hold onto scraps!), filled the little case with dried beans, then attached the resulting bean bag around the base of the form with - you guessed it- pins! My gal doesn't get knocked off her feet anymore, despite all the work she does for me.

As you can see, it's quite tempting to add more than pins to the newest member of Sewing Corner. So handy to tack down bits of silk organza scrap (good spots to stick my threaded needles), spare bits of trim, beading, and the pretty little brooch I picked up from the flea market. And of course a lady like this needs a fan for flirting with her many admirers.

Hanging out with the new girl at my machine, keeps me, as always, absolutely enchanted by sewing.

Nothing Slick About San Jose's Christmass In The Park

Click on the Illustration Above
To fully enjoy the details

A funky and folksy conglomeration of decorative community effort put on by every organization in town, from girl scout troops to your  local Flavored Tobacco Addiction Abuse Group.

Nobody tries to make San Jose's Christmas in the Park into something it isn't.

I never miss it.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

San Francisco Field Trip: Please pass the Shrimp (Zoo)

It's the Shrimp that Keep Us In The Pink
Click on the illustration above
To fully enjoy the beautiful details
These flamingos always give me the feeling I'm in an altered universe. I mean..... would we turn pink if we ate enough shrimp?

One of my favorite ways to play tourist in any city I'm visiting, is to go to the zoo. Zoo's tend to be spacious, beautiful places that have evolved over time. People of all ages, who live in that exotic place I've traveled to, are there, enjoying time with their families. Traveling with a kid? They'll find play time they may be missing as they zip around exhibits. A lot of zoos, like  San Francisco Zoo have great playgrounds and children's zoos for maximum other-kid interaction as well.

In this setting, people who live there are relaxed and ready to chat about what they find beautiful in this specialized environment -perhaps the landscaping or design. Often they suggest other fun places to go or eat. In zoo's I've also been know to pickup tidbits about local politics I might not hear in the made-for-tourists meccas farther downtown.

Oh, and there are animals there too. Animals I might not have seen in other zoos. San Francisco Zoo is home to an exhibit of twin grizzly bears, a pair that wildlife rescue folk weren't able to re-release. They are darling. The Magellanic penguin breeding program is one of the most successful in the world. Plus the little tuxedoed cuties are a kick to watch, every one so individual. I hung out for a half an hour today during feeding time, as every single penguin was hand fed their requisite two fish - and if they didn't take two that fact was noted on the keepers clip board. Eagle Island and Devil the white penguin (a one-winged survivor of a tangle with a cut fishing line - most marine animals in this situation don't make it) are two other favorites of mine. Devil is particularly appealing when he plays with - woops I mean interacts with - his keeper.

Even though it's not particularly far from home, I always feel like I'm on a wonderful trip when I visit the San Francisco Zoo. I love the gorgeous landscaping and appreciate the effort that's gone into making the animals feel comfortable and relaxed.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Field Trip: Training Home from Burlingame

After an afternoon out enjoying the sights of Burlingame Avenue, my daughter dropped me off at the Burlingame Train Station. Cal Train comes every half an hour and I was able to take it on to my destination in Menlo Park.

Waiting at the station I chatted, in casual California strangers style, with Alex and his mother. Alex, aged two and a half explained to me the concept of what benches were for. He and his family were headed to the library on the train, a regular exciting event in his family. We enjoyed looking down the tracks for the train together, while exercising great caution in the matter of the train's inability to stop suddenly.

Alex and his mother also shared a train song with me and I, in return, performed Train is a'Comin' for him. About the time I got to the end, the train did indeed arrive in the station. At which point my new comrade lost all interest in anything as plebian as a song.

What better way could their possibly be to head to the library than aboard a passenger train? Will any other experiences in the rest of Alex's life really equal the excitement of it?

Related Links - Youtube of my performance of Train is a' Comin'

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Holiday Greeting From The Land of Fruits and Nuts

Go ahead and Click on the Illustration Above
For all the Nutty Details!

Ho Ho Ho from California!

Hope you don't crack up from meetin' too many nuts this holiday season.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Cracking Nuts at the Opera House

Oh Please Click on the Illustration Above to
Enjoy the full beauty of this theatre
Awaiting the Show
Nutcracker Ballet, Warm Memorial Opera House San Francisco
This San Francisco ballet has undergone a major transformation since I last attended a performance of the Nutcracker at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco. The costumes have been upgraded with a more Edwardian look and Clara's relationship with her godfather and the Nutcracker Prince is an improvement. She shifts between doll-playing-girlhood, into a dream within a dream of maidenhood, that seems more natural to me. I also liked the conversion of the Sugar Plum fairies final pas de deux and solos with her cavalier into roles for Clara and the prince. The dancing in these parts was just plain more interesting.

I don't want to spoil things for anybody, but whoever came up with the idea of having the Russian dancers burst through the windows of what appears to be faberge eggs needs to get the stupendous award!

Monday, December 17, 2012

I'll Have a Bluuuuuue Schist Christmas, Without You!

 Blue Schist is a rare beauty made from volcanic basalt. This patch at Edgewood, metamorphosed at high pressure and low temperature from deeply subducted oceanic crust.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

California Christmas Berry (Toyon)

Please Click on the Illustration Above

To Enjoy the Full Beauty of

Heteromeles arbutifolia

California Toyon Berries
European settlers were pleased to find a familiar plant from back home, when they saw these beautiful red berries and jagged leaves all over the hills of their young settlement in Southern California. I mean, come on, everybody knows holly when they see it!

And so.... that's why the California film industry didn't take off in the community of Toyonwood.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Chrismika Preparations

After cutting down a tree at a farm on Highway 92, just east of Half Moon Bay, we went home to light the last candle on the menorah, make latkes and play the dreidel game.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holiday Bakery: Hangin' with the Danes

Who needs distant travel for a cultural experience? The Copenhagen Bakery in nearby Burlingame is a lovely place to stop in on a local field trip. Their holiday windows are more than inviting and their cardomom raisin bread is pretty durn good too.

'Round home travel is the best kind.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

CA Coast Range: Smack Dab in the Middle

Every time I come out of class at Cañada College,
 I get to see this marvelous view of the CA Coast Range.
Chock full of blu schist, serpentinite, and chert rocks these mountains are part of an accretionary wedge of the same ancient volcanic arc from which the Sierra Nevada batholith formed.

Go ahead and click on the illustration above
for a lovely  up close and personal view of
The CA coast range from Cañada College

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sinuous Los Trancos Creek

Click on the illustration above
for an up close and personal view
of Los Trancos Creek

The trail up Windy Hill has more than it's share of moments.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Fungus Amongus: The Pink Ones Are Toxic

Hiking Windy Hill 

Click on the toxic princess above
to really enjoy the details
But don't touch, 
if you run into  her on a post-rain hike
As was hoped for, we got a bit of those storms the Oregonians were so kind as to send down our way. Two guesses as to what quick crop the rain brings out in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

I chatted with a mushroom gathering fella close to the end of my hike at Windy Hill Open Space Preserve today. You aren't actually supposed to gather mushrooms in the Open Space, but what do you say? My husband saw another couple at the top of the hill with collecting bags as well. Hopefully enough people are concerned about the possibility of eating the wrong 'shroom that the area doesn't get stripped of it's fungus-bearing potential.

This man was gathering mushrooms under an oak tree. I asked him about this pink beauty I'd snapped on my camera phone further up the hill. He knew just the spot she grew.

"Oh those are very toxic," he said in an English thick with a mellifluous some-kinda-European accent I couldn't place. "They are so toxic that if you even touch them with your fingers, the toxins will enter your bloodstream and .... " he made a vague gesture as to where I might now be, had I had the nerve to perhaps prop up this little pink-topped native plant to enhance her photographic possibilities. The location of his casual gesture was somewhere down the side of the trail in a rather steep ravine.

Don't eat the pink ones.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Musical Evening at Christmas Cottage

I was off rehearsing with  the rest of Stanford Symphonic Chorus this evening, for the new year opening weekend performance at Stanford's spectacular new Bing Concert Hall (they call it "The Bing"). So I had no idea what had been happening elsewhere. 

Turns out that 'whilst I was inhaling the fumes of fresh resins and the crystal tones of the instrumentalists, a fine time was also being had by all  back in Christmas Cottage.

Fa la la la.

(co-published with A California Christmas Cottage)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Toy Shelf: Environmentally Conscientious Elves

What could be s a better look for the holiday tree?
Fuyu persimmons are both edible and biodegradable
When it comes to holiday decorations out here in California, we're always fans of the natural look.  During the festive season, the local elven brother and sisterhood follow environmentally sustainable decoration harvesting practices.

(co-published with A California Christmas Cottage)

San Francisquito Creek in Full Spate

Go ahead and click on the illustration above for an up close and personal view
of San Francisquito Creek viewed from one of the local bike bridges
Thanks to my friend Judy for sending all that rain down from Grant's Pass. We can 'most always use the wet stuff down California way. San Francisquito Creek creek, over which the bike bridges between Palo Alto and Menlo Park cross, provides an excellent view of what the recent storms have gifted us with.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Toy Shelf: Santa Doll and Friends

You better not shout,
You better not cry,
You better not pout,
I'm tellin' you why
...a rather unjolly old Christmas myth, don't you think?

I got up very early on the first day of December to visit the toy shelf in the Christmas Cottage.

You can imagine how surprised I was to find that Santa Claus had already shown up.

He'd gotten right down to work, checking with the kids to see what they're hoping for this holiday.

Don't believe what you may have heard about that naughty or nice stuff. He could care less about how they've been behaving. Every kid qualifies for love from Santa.
You can shout.
You can cry.
No matter what, Santa's comin' by.

(co-published with A California Christmas Cottage)

Persimmons on Parade

Thanks to my good neighbor Jen, we have persimmons this year. I know I could buy them at the downtown Farmer's Market, good ones too. But, around here, buying persimmons is like having to buy lemons. It feels wrong.

I scored both types that grow in the area, Fuyu and Hachiya. We actually have a Fuyu tree in our yard, and we used to get a lot of fruit from it. But no more. The squirrels scored all but one pathetic half of a fruit. Or maybe it was the raccoons. They were certainly busy with our small tomato patch this year.

But, luckily for me I scored with the homegrown persimmons. Of course, as y'all know, the Fuyu are the kind you eat hard. You can eat them out of hand, but we are pretty partial to them in our regular big supper salads. Tonight we had our first local crab salad of the year. Hooray for crab season! The pairing of persimmon and crab is right up there with apples and honey, mashed potatoes and gravy, or apples and cheddar cheese. Some flavors were just meant to go together.

I used some of the ripe Hachiya (you never want to eat those astringent guys until they are good and mushy) in a persimmon cake for Thanksgiving. I lost my original recipe, but there are variants on the web and I just played around with what I found. I'm not actually sure what I ended up putting in other than buttermilk, plenty of persimmon, dark raisins, local walnuts, and no oil or butter. It's basically a very minimal any-kind-of-oil-or-butter with 3 ripe persimmons (about a cup and a half of fruit). Delicious. That is what fruit cake should taste like, not heavy but dense and rich with fruit.

I'm partial to these little darlings in a smoothie with frozen bannana, milk and vanila as well. Heaven. I better freeze up those other two Hachiya's right now so I can have one tomorrow. BTW if the Fuyu get over ripe they work in any of the same way as their astringint cousins. That's why we planted a Fuyu tree. You get the value of both types of fruit.

Good simple California eating. Could food grow any better?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Moving Off the Ophiolite Standard

The Galapagos
Click on the image above for  the lovely details
Source: Google Earth
Another of ma belle soeur's is Barbara (Bobbie) John. Bobbie is a research geologist who teaches at the University of Wyoming. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, she chatted with me about her upcoming cruise. We're not talking kicking back with a Mai Tai on the Lido Deck, and checking out the action in the deep end of the pool. At the end of this quarter, Bobbie's going to head off on a jaunt aboard the Joides Resolution to study the action a good ways down beneath the ocean waves.

Out there on the Cocos Plate, west of the Galapagos there's a V-shaped ridge known as Hess Deep. The Deep is a crack under the ocean. Once aboard the ship, Bobbie and the rest of the gang will be drilling a hole down into Hess Deep, and recovering the rock (which at that point will be known as drill core) that comes back up in the drill rod to see what they've found.

How far will y'all be a' drillin' Bobbie? 

OK...we're drill at approx 4872 m below sea  roughly 15980 feet or nearly 1500 feet deeper than Mt Whitney is above sea level (if that helps).  This depth is likely not totally accurate as we have to find a drill site and then go for it...will keep you updated as we go. 

And why bother?

Because the current model research scientists have of what lies below the ocean crust in the Cocos plate, is based on rocks transported far from their origin onto remote continents, by tectonic forces (plate tectonic uplift). Geologists refer to these ancient assembleges as ophiolites. Ain't that a beautiful name? 

On this trip, the folks on the Joides Resolution want to see the fresh stuff. They are planning to get a more accurate picture of what lies under the ocean right there, right now, in situ

Check Out Hess Deep
by Clicking on the Image above
A V-Shaped Crack in the Bathysphere
West of the Galapagos

Fairy Houses

Click on the image above
For a close-up view of the lands where the Fairy Folk Dwell
Fairy housing beats ours hands down. The fay folk are the green construction originals when it comes to environmentally 

• Pefectly permeable pavement - no challenge to the aquifer!
• Edible totally organic roofs and walls reduce the cost of transporting food to the home
• High-efficiency, non-fueled solar lighting
• Totally compostable buildings lead to no-waste, no environmental impact

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hawks Ahead - Hiking Edgewood

My Kind of Study Break

A Red-Tail Hawk, I think.

Using my low-level cell phone camera, and was I glad I had it.

I'd been focusing on learning about what triggers mass wasting. She was focusing on finding supper.  I think she missed out on her opportunity, as I came around the corner feet away from her in the grass, wrestling with something small and ground-dwelling.

What a reward for studious effort.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Adenostoma fasciculatum - Looking a little seedy ain't yah?

Please click on the illustration above to fully enjoy this beauty

Adenostoma fasciculatum
Chamise graces the chaparral at Edgewood Park

Friday, November 23, 2012

Are you a Celebrant of National Pie-For-Breakfast Day?

Happy National Pie-For-Breaksfast-Day for those of us in the U.S. This fine holiday, of historic national importance, was created by ma Belle Seour Kathy John A merry holiday to all!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Edgewood Shale Once an Ocean?

Edgewood Shale, The ultimate in Time Travel
Ancient Muds Tells Us Still Waters Once Lay Deep Here

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cascades Ahead, Juan de Fuca Plate Off the Port Bow

Click on the illustration above 
to get up close and personal with this Cascadian view

Crater Lake was the first big stop on our recent trip into the Cascades.  It was also my first good long view of a range of mountains that first shoots up in my home state of California and dances all the way along through Oregon, Washington and into British Columbia.

The volcanic nature of many of these mountain peaks are all the fault of that boisterous Juan de Fuca plate. Or, if you prefer, you can blame it on Juan's kin, the troublesome North American plate. Skimming along towards each other atop the earth's mantle, at the rate of a couple of centimeters a year, both are headed on a disaster course.

As little Juan continues to converge into that big ole North American plate, watch out! Being more dense (of course since he's an oceanic plate) Juanito is just making trouble for himself. He's getting subducted under his bigger continental cousin. You'd think those oceanic plates would have figured out by now, that's the way the laws of plate tectonics work. But those kids never seem to learn!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Kickin' it in Our Sagebrush Sandals (Cascades:Crater Lake)

Crater Lake, California
Click on the illustration above,  to really enjoy the details

While we were walking along the rim of Crater Lake, I was already planning a return trip back to see more of that incredibly clean, blue, blue, blue water in the high, dry air.

I particularly liked reading the informative little sign about a pile of ten thousand year old  sandals an Oregon researcher found beneath volcanic ashes, demonstrating that people were probably living in this area before, and possibly during the eruption that created the crater that makes the lake basin. 

They were made out of sagebrush. Liiiiike, how comfortable would THOSE be to hike in?

There were dozens of pairs of shoes left. How come? Didn't somebody miss them? Could it be an ancient days Cinderella story?

A spot of time travel to solve this little mystery is definitely in order.
Perhaps an ancient Cinderella, ran off and left her sagebrush slippers behind