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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Well it's 11:30 already, and I've managed to shower for the day.

We're in recovery mode here after a traumatic evening that still has me shaking as I type this in the light of day.  The short story is as follows:
Late yesterday afternoon a pack of very nasty neighbor dogs got out of their yard and trespassed into ours.  Sancho, big hearted and full of puppy invincibility, told them to leave but the odds were stacked too unfairly.  
It was three to five, if you count Brad and I in Sancho's court.  I didn't even recognize the screams that were coming out of my mouth until I recalled them later, and Brad didn't even realize he was bleeding until we had Sancho in the house and the other dogs off our property.
The good news is this:
After a very long night at the emergency vet, followed by the human ER, every one is put back together with fairly minor wounds, taking their antibiotics and up after sleeping in late.

Sancho decided he loves the vet, after no less than 10 cookies.
Brad has an oven mit of a bandage on his right hand (all the better to pour the tea kettle he told me earlier).

But we're taking it slow today.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Every now and then, I like to follow directions.

I am a self-admitted snob about many things,
eye shadow
art books
(I should stop here...)

However when it comes to flowers, it shall be known that I throw my arms wide open to each and every one.

(but, and this can be our dirty little secret,
Dalihas might be my favorite)

Monday, August 22, 2011

... and on the seventh day she painted.
And it was good.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

In The Studio

I'm working again.
Something deep and visceral within me is turning,
something large and choking has shifted,
edges crumbling.
Pools of turquoise feel sacred and the counting of marks the most holy prayers.
I can barely talk about it yet
instead I'll feel it out in brushstrokes.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

News Flash

Well the numbers are in and we have two ladies about to get jammy!
Miss Gamebred
Miss Artist in the Arctic
I'll be emailing you both for addys here in just a moment...
Now just to be perfectly clear, I am generally not above being bribed, especially when said bribe contains berries, BUT, not here and not now.  So for your viewing boredom, here are the screen shots from the most random number generator of all.
JUST to be clear.

on to the news flash...
This morning I awoke to this photo in my email inbox.  One of these babies will be coming home with us in approximately eight weeks.  PUPPIES!  I could eat them up with a silver spoon and a dollop of cream!
From the month we first brought Sancho home, BC and I have talked about a second dog.  After loads of research reading and in the flesh (i.e. after falling in love with a couple at the dog park) we decided on a doberman as the perfect companion for us and our boxer.  Last month when I was down in the San Francisco area, I met with a breeder we had talked extensively with online, met his dogs, and generally fell in love.  And then last night, our little girl was born.
I can wait to sniff her toes and nibble on her ears!

~ Umber ~

*A side note, because the subject of buying from a breeder vs. adopting is a very sensitive issue.  We have debated hugely on this issue before settling on both of our pups and both times have come to this conclusion:  There are thousands of animals that desperately need adoption and thousands of irresponsible breeders (too often supported by irresponsible buyers).  We have viewed our choice in this similarly to buying organic and local foods.  We took our time and found breeders who are beyond responsible in their breeding programs (extensive health testing, training, working, showing, etc.) and even further beyond passionate about their dogs and decided that THAT was how we wanted to vote with our dollars.  Supporting people who are doing right by their dogs, those living creatures, who are breeding with love and education, who are care far more about their animals that just making a buck.  These are the people and this is the action we want to support.  And so we will.  Thanks for hearing me out on this one! *

Monday, August 8, 2011

What's Black and Red and Spread All Over?

THIS JAM, that's what is!
(seriously, LOOK at that color! swoonterific!)
This weekend I truly broke in my new gas range with a batch of the season's first jams: Strawberry-Blackberry to be exact.

The strawberries hail from my favorite vendors at the farmer's market: A young couple, 35 at the most, the very definition of earth sprites.  She has long ringlets of strawberry-blond hair and a smile like Mother Nature herself.  Last year as spring progressed into autumn, she would weigh out my potatoes and lettuces with a gentle hand on her growing belly.  This year she has a beautiful blonde boy permanently strapped to her chest but she mans the scale as deftly as ever.  Her partner looks a bit like Moses, long curls and a bushy beard with a constant wide grin.  We chat about the brussel sprouts and his uncle's plum orchard (last year I made the most heart-stoppingly delicious jam from those plums, this year the crop was too small to bring to market and I almost cried).  They gush over squash blossoms and always throw an extra head of garlic in the bag with a wink.  Their berries are the sweetest at the market, and I'm constantly suckered into giving them all my cash for whatever they may have harvested that morning.

The blackberries hail from the southern fence-line of my property, starting approximately 12 feet from the laundry room door.  Between the songbirds, the pup, and myself, we're working hard on snapping up every plump black globe but the bushes just keep coming.  Prolific!  I think I'll need to make up a cobbler this week, "need" being the key term.  I've always had a love affair with blackberries, stemming from hot summer nights kayaking down rivers, filling milk jugs with the fruit that overhangs the water's edge.  I imagined myself a doe, plucking berries delicately with my teeth while teetering on skinny legs. 
The very definition of wild-crafted
All of this to say,
I made TWO jars for you!

Organic Strawberries.
Wildcrafted Blackberries.
Organic Unbleached Sugar.
And a little bit of magic earth fairy dust thrown in for good measure.

All you need do is leave me a comment below and cross your fingers tight!  I'll draw two names from the proverbial hat sometimes on Wednesday August 10th and ship-shape the lucky winners their jam!  Buy some bread, bake some scones or just get your spoons at the ready.

And Good LUCK to you!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


I forgot the dish soap.  But I DID manage to find this gorgeous lady with buttercup blooms and mahogany tinted leaves.

I have a feeling ol' CC's Market is going to be a weakness of mine.

Vignettes from the New Dovely Estates, Part One

This is lunch. 
(plus a handful of the ugliest but sweetest strawberries that have ever existed - the kind you would describe as having a "great personality")
And this is the view. 
(right now, as I type, I can hear the downy woodpecker bapping away just down the hillside.  I've been sighting him the last few days, quick flashes of a red crown and a bold white chest).
The house is coming together, the pile of flattened boxes is nearly epic, finally yesterday, I hung the first painting.  
I like to feel out a house before slapping up decor.  I like to know which windows let in the morning breeze, where the richest puddles of afternoon sunlight fall, and which walls I will touch as I pass, every time.  In short I need to live in a place fully, deeply, in order to make it home.  I like to know the rhythm of steps it takes to travel from the bedroom to the fridge in the middle of the night.  I like to shift the house plants around until they settle in like brooding hens.  I like my paintings to tell me where they want to hang.
I'm working on it.
* * *
About a quarter mile down the street is a little market, the local corner type.  They may be small, but they cater to both the organic milk drinkers (when home, I am a staunch milk-with-my-coffee gal) and the "dinner out of the fry case which happens to be the thing my nightmares are made of" eaters, but best of all, they have a well stocked plant selection out front.  Two days ago I bought a new begonia along with my laundry detergent.  Today I'm trying to think of something, anything I might need just for the excuse to walk down there and buy another plant.  Maybe bananas.  Or dish soap, do I have enough dish soap? Probably not.
* * *
This place is alive with humming birds.  Yesterday I stared into the blue sky until my eyes watered and cried as a brilliant blue fellow hovered just feet above my head.  The entire backyard is a wild playground, thick and tangled as the hill slopes down to the river.  One might call it an experiment in invasive plants gone terribly wrong, this quest for the jungle crown between bamboo, stinging nettle, ivy,  horse tail and blackberry (my neighbor is a shirtless man who swings a machete while wearing a Coors ball-cap.  We've only waved from a distance).  Along the fence the blackberries have won, but this serves me well: Every morning thus far I have trotted out my laundry room door, colander in hand, to pluck fat berries, two for me, four for the basket, one for Sancho.  We stand outside in the weak sunlight of early morning, mouths watering, a new ritual.
I think it's time to go and buy that dish soap.
~ Umber ~