Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentine's Day Weekend

Russ and I aren't too big on "commercial holidays" like Valentine's Day, but this year, by accident really, we decided to have a weekend on the Central Coast which coincided with Valentine's Day.  It was a wonderful two days, except for the fact that our Motel 6-ish hotel was $200 a night because of the holiday weekend, I assume. We went on two great runs: Johnson Ranch and Ontario Ridge. After lunch, on our second day we went to visit the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden. While we were walking around, we both thought we heard sheep, which seemed a little strange, considering that, although the area is rural, it is still bordered by the grounds of Cuesta College on one side and a golf course on the other. As we were leaving, we decided to drive around the county campground that is a part of the county park where the gardens are, and there were the sheep, grazing on a hill. Their "shepherd, a retired Cal Poly professor was there, moving the fencing around their grazing area. I asked if his charges were "SLO County lawnmowers," and started what ended up being a very interesting conversation.

 This little guy, who the professor caught specially 
for me to pet, was born just last night. Have I mentioned that I LOVE lambs???

There was such an interesting story behind the sheep being there. The professor is helping retain and restore the vegetation and therefore the soil, around the golf course. We had such an interesting conversation about land management. He made me want to learn more about caring for the soil and the whole terrior thing. He was so knowledgable that I asked him his name, thinking he must have been pretty influential in agricultural circles, having taught at Cal Poly for thirty years. He was...and a bit controversial too, since he obviously doesn't agree with current agribusiness practices. I Googled him, and found out that Harris Ranch lobbyists hated him when he was teaching--in other words, he's heroic in my book....Oh, and I think he's friends with Michael Pollan, too which I also think is cool. I love Michael Pollen's quote:"Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much."

 The first day, we had lunch at the Sidecar Cafe in San Luis Obispo, and it was awesome: pork belly tacos, arugula salad with pomegranite, goat cheese and pumpkin seeds, and pozole.  That evening, we headed for Pismo Beach to eat at Ember, Kai's favorite restaurant, and ran into bumper to bumper traffic. Realizing, we were heading into "Valentine's Day craziness," we turned around and ended up ordering sushi, which was just OK, but we had a wonderful wine with it, Cunundrum 2019 Red Wine,   which is a California blend. On Sunday, after a morning run//hike up Ontario Ridge, we went the the High Street Market and Deli for "breakfast." My "Fraky's Breaky" breakfast sandwich seemed to have nearly an entire avocado in it. Enough said.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Pink is Still the Best

I bought some angora yarn from Little Knits a while back, as in maybe ten years ago or more. It was a really good deal and very pretty yarn, but it just sat in my knitting basket making me feel a little guilty. After finishing my last cowl, I got the bright idea to knit one with some of my pink angora.This is called Forest Park Cowl.  I knit it for a friend who likes pastels a lot, and I think she'll like it. The only problem is that the forecast says we'll be having temps in the mid 70s this week. I feel like our winter weather window has closed!

So, I'm not excited about the fact that it's already getting so warm in February, but I do love how my garden is beginning to look. I have johnny-jump-ups popping up everywhere.

I'm like the Johnny Appleseed of johnny-jump-ups. Every year, I'll spread the seed pods all over the yard, and now they just self sow. I've done the same thing with little white chrysanthemums, which are pretty much like weeds, so I shouldn't get so excited about growing them, but it's fun to have the yard start to get so colorful.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Still Knitting

I have loved this cowl pattern for quite a while, even though I have very little call for wearing  a cowl made of thick yarn like this one. The pattern is called Vitamin C, and it was really fun to knit, except for the middle patterning that I didn't really understand and wasn't that impressed with anyway, so I just skipped. I always think open pattern work with thick yarn is just an invitation for snagging. I plan to give it to a friend from Maine, who loves the color green and who has a vacation house on the beach near Pismo, where it gets a little chilly at nights sometimes. If that fails, maybe she'll go home for Christmas one year, and it will come in handy.

 We're one of those families that probably loves their pets a little too much. We recognize that they're animals, and not people, but that still leaves lots of room for doting on them inordinately and being tremendously sad when they are sick or in pain. This picture is of my daughter's cat, Pip, after getting his first bath just after she brought him home after I told her not to, but then convinced me to just see him so that she could "clean" him up so she could find him a home. He smelled terrible, had fleas, and an infection in his ears, and...was obviously in pain, but still had the loudest purr I've ever heard, and, of course, ended up staying with us until Paige took him back to school with her in the fall

He grew up into a beautiful, though somewhat awkward kitty who fit in well with his "sister,"Cozette, who Paige had gotten at the shelter in Davis. For a variety of reasons, Paige decided to come back to Bakersfield to finish her degree, and so we have ended up being Pip and Cozette's caregivers since their "mama" is gone most of the time. (I've told Paige that possession is nine-tenths of the law, and we don't intend to give them up when she has a place for them.)

 A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that Pip wasn't his perky self, as in he didn't get me up at five in the morning by licking my nose. I petted him and noticed an injury of some kind on his haunches, like a bite, which it was. Our local, seventy-eight year old vet gave him some antibiotics, and we thought that was the end of it...until a week later, when I noticed some inflammation near the wound. To make a long story short, after three different visits, our vet misdiagnosed the second problem, and Paige, fortunately, recognized that something was very wrong. We ended up taking Pip hurriedly to a Vet Hospital 25 miles away with a much more sophisticated staff, where they diagnosed a bladder infection and didn't give us too much hope for him to recover. I really thought he would die in the car on the way there. If he had been an old cat, I would have said it was his time, but let's just say, I paid a whole bunch of money on the off chance I could prevent all of us being really sad.

After three days in the hospital, two days, of which he had a "catheter" inserted, which I now kind of think is funny--"CAT"heter-- he was miraculously on the mend. I credit Paige with a large part of his recovery since she spent every free minute she had, visiting him and probably annoying the staff a bit by staying well past the usual time limit for visits. I really didn't think he would make it, but, as my son, Kai, says, it seems like some people and animals have a stronger will to live than others., and Pip is definitely one of those. I have spent the last two weeks being mostly in charge of his meds since Paige usually either stays in Bakersfield during the week or isn't home from work until nearly midnight or later.

I've had to give him an unpleasant tasting little pill twice a day, and he's been unhappy, but never batted at me or even seemed remotely interested in biting me. He definitely quite a unique kitty, and he joins the ranks of what one of my friends calls "the million dollar kitty" club, cats that were free but end up costing a fortune.

He's not back to a hundred percent yet, but he's getting to be more and more like himself, napping on unmade beds with Rolly, which is supposed to be forbidden, and just walking by us and "pipping," which he hasn't done for a couple of weeks now.
Paige says that she's going to pay us back, but I won't hold her to it because I would have paid to try to give him a chance anyway, but I do hope she maybe gets the idea that pets can be expensive and keeps her pet family to her two cats, that is, if we ever let her have them back.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

A Little Gardening

It can get cold in Central California...really. I had thrown some overgrown chrysanthemums into this bucket and kind of forgotten about them a couple of weeks ago. Then it rained, and those poor discarded flowers kept blooming, peaking their faces above the water line, and then it froze, and they were still trying to survive. 
 Which is my segway for explaining why I needed to have Russ construct some little greenhouses for me if I wanted a winter garden. I love not having to water constantly and not struggling with insects and other summer gardener bains.
 My lettuce has been very happy with his efforts. Besides wanting to raise sheep and sit around knitting stuff from my sheep's wool, I would like to be a farmer. I'll have to be satisfied for now with my little raised beds. I have tons of lettuce and kale growing along with chervil.
 Last night I picked some of of my kale and lettuce to make a salad, and then I made a pesto with the chervil. It was quite good on Russ's homemade pizza crust, even though I'm not positive that it tastes that different from cilantro pesto, not that it matters. Chervil has a little bit of a licorice flavor. I guess it's a part of bouquet garni in French cooking.
 We added some red bell peppers, prosciutto, and Lamb chopper cheese from Cypress Grove to the pesto topping, and we had quite an awesome supper.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Enjoying the Last of 2014

 Russ and I have always liked spending time in Cambria a couple of times a years, but after spending a wonderful weekend with some friends, staying at the Cambria Pines Lodge in November, we've decided that we need to spend more time there. One of the main reasons is a new discovery for us: The Fiscalini Ranch Preserve. Our first time running the trails there, it was warm and sunny, but last week, it was cold and windy, but still fun, in a "challenging" way.
 Russ paid for running down this steep hill too fast for a couple days afterwards with sore knees.

 Kai, who makes the two of us look like we're running backwards, came with us, and seemed to enjoy it a lot, even though he wasn't prepared for such cold weather. He was ready to go back up to Monterey and warm up.

There are interesting benches all along the trail, but this is one of my favorites.

There is one more reason that I like Cambria so much. It has a wonderful yarn shop called The Ball and Skein. I've been going there for years. It's recently moved and is even more fun than before, as in full to the brim with more yarn than ever. I made a stop there, ostensibly, to buy some circular needles I needed for a project that I'd brought along, but I walked out with two skeins of beautiful yarn. The purplish yarn is from Manos del Urguguy. The color is called Hortensia, which, for some reason, I think is awesome. The lighter colored yarn one Happiness from Kollage, I wouldn't call it luxurious, but it's close to that. It's just that it's too sturdy feeing to be luxurious. I'm planning to make a cowl for a friend with it, and it's going to feel so soft and cozy. Too bad it was almost 70 degrees today. Oh! One last neat addition. It's called Nit Wit Ridge, which is a local landmark in Cambria...a house made out of junk basically, but somehow kind of cool looking.