Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Busy Morning and a Warm Classroom

I have a lot that I'm trying to work on right now and it feels like I'm running through molasses. Nothing feels like it's quite up to speed which leaves me feeling very frustrated. The Internet and computers are running slowly, and we ran out of printer ink and paper. Apparently trying to work on these things and still get the kids ready for school doesn't mix well. We finally got ourselves, violin, lunches, jackets and hats in the car. Wow was it cold this morning! We all took a Rescue Remedy chewy and Oliver's promptly popped out of his mouth. When he got up to look for where it had fallen, I found it stuck to his backside. I peeled it off and stuck it back in his face, we all had a good laugh. Oliver's paper star was glowing amongst his classmates in the window of his room and upon entering Molly's a calm prevails. Along the window the teacher has set a beautiful space for the children to observe every morning. A single candle glows warm and bright surrounded by red berries and pine boughs. Behind the candle, stands a menorah to celebrate Hanukkah. I take a moment, enjoy the peace it brings me. When things feel cold, I'll try to remember the light.

Monday, November 29, 2010

City Energy

Michael and Oliver at the game.
Oliver rock'n the sideline at the Raider's game!
While I was with Molly and my friend Maya in the city, Oliver got to go to a Raider's game! So we do a little waldorf and a little craziness. They had a blast sitting with friends in safe seating and taking a walk onto the field. What an amazing gift from our friends. I definitely think Oliver will remember this forever. Although they lost, we met back at one of the coach's' homes for a beautiful dinner and lots of fun loud football talk. Michael was in heaven! Such great people. While they were at the Raider Nation, we did delicious Chinese food in North Beach, crunchy and creamy cannoli, and the ferry building where Molly took many pictures of all the food, Christmas decorations and views of the bay at sunset. She just loves taking pictures! She had that huge camera around her neck most of the day snapping away. I can't wait to see how they turned out.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

San Francisco, Here I Come

It's been so long since I've spent time in the city and I'm really looking forward to it. Michael and Oliver are going to a football game with friends and my friend Maya and I are taking Molly and her youngest to San Francisco. I'll be sure to photograph any delicious moments to post later! The tree made it to the living room with little incident, which is almost a disappointment considering how funny it's been to watch in the past. Sparkling beautifully in the window, all the ornaments from over the years hanging from it's boughs, Christmas time is here.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

To Grandmother's House We Go

We're hitting the busy roads today to visit Grandma and hunt for a Christmas tree! It should be a muddy, wet, frustrating event with someone inevitably disappointed in the selection. Then comes the true test of patience........fitting the tree into a small stand that wants to fall over,or, at least lean ever so slightly enough to warrant repositioning. The poor person stuck under the foliage, yelling as patiently as possible for direction and hoping not to get a tick, just ends up getting tortured by laughing observers who disagree on which direction it's actually leaning. Although this doesn't sound like much fun, we all look forward to this long standing tradition of watching someone suffer. Later, I'll update you on the events of this year's killing and humiliation of, what was, the beautiful tree.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Muffled Laughter

Mincemeat pumpkin, paradise pumpkin and a traditional brown sugar pumpkin pie.
Molly just loves when there's a reason to celebrate and family converges on the Shire. She wants to be apart of the whole thing, from the cooking and setting the table, to listening in on the adults stories. Oliver likes to lend his "brute strength" to the event, helping to lift wood for the fire. Watching them both, I remember what that felt like as a child, how safe it all felt. "You mean, all these people love me?"Now that we're just across the street, Molly and Oliver spent most of the morning over at my Aunt Denise's house while I baked 3 different pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving(they all smelled delicious)! Being amongst all the bustle, fighting for space both physically and verbally. Try as you might to enter the loud conversations, you may never be heard. Denise compared it to the game Whack A Mole, you've just gotta be patient, then.............. HIT HIM! It's not for everyone, even I get overwhelmed and need to get away for a moment, regain my strength. At my Grandma's, I would sit in the stairwell off the kitchen listening to the muffled laughter, feeling the pulse of the family. The phone on the kitchen wall would ring and someone would answer, stretching the long curly cord around the corner to sit on the stairs to hear better. Having been discovered, I would get up and rejoin the happy chaos. There is not a stairwell to sit in anymore, so I stepped outside for a breather and there it was, the pulse. The laughter, loud conversation and games continued. Standing under the stars, alone, in the dark cold of November, I felt like a little girl again. "You mean, they all love me?"I am thankful for my family.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Glowing Stars and Wildlife

A little bird helps himself to a candy sweet persimmon.

inner light and truth

You can find this beautiful kite paper at Paper Scissors Stone and an instructional book at My Wish List Store!

Nuts and Grubs!

We had some friends over yesterday and, with five children in this small space, it's so nice when they are easily entertained. A bag of walnuts and some crackers is all you need to start the fun! The nuts are dry and ready to eat but there's one catch........some have grubs. I know, YUCK right? Well, this seems to be the funnest part. Not knowing what you're gonna get, bug or food. I'm in the kitchen roasting pumpkin while screams of joy and delight rise up to the ceiling. Some are big, others small (grubs I mean) and sometimes there's a delicious walnut. I don't think many nuts will make it into my holiday baking since each one that they find is edible, well, gets eaten. So what do you do without a television people ask. Here's one interesting project! They didn't seem to miss the glowing screen.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Magic in the Shire

Oliver carves a face in the pumpkin that will soon be a pie while Molly and her friends discover new faerie homes along the banks of the swale now full from the recent storms. She points to a little walnut boat that has settled on a stones beside the water and they all try to figure out how the faeries will move it. They move on to the swings hanging from a large walnut tree, taking turns gliding through the air, they are blissful. My counter is lined with persimmons waiting to ripen to a translucent liquid orange before being baked into cookies and breads. In celebration of the inner light we need to get through the dark days of winter, we have set out a menorah and will fold beautifully colored kite paper in the shapes of stars to put in our windows. I love vacation.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Comfort Food Breakfast

Today is the first day of the kids vacation from school! Yesterday was hard as we attended our friends memorial. The place was packed and some people stood or sat in the aisles. His young daughter performed "edelweiss" on her violin and the closing number involved us all singing the Beatle's song "We can work it out", his daughter on stage belting out with friends and family, all of us on our feet singing our hearts out, tears running down our faces. Oliver woke up crying this morning after dreaming that Michael had passed away. Such a heavy thing for anyone but especially children. I decided to make a comfort food breakfast! With all organic ingredients, I made a cornmeal custardy spoon bread served with rich maple syrup and thickly sliced bacon. Crunchy, luscious, sweet and smokey, the kids were pleased and we got to enjoy breakfast together at the table. "Life is very short and there's no time for fussing and fighting my friends"
Check out the recipe section for this delicious spoon bread!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Storm of the Century!

Crazy football fans with sleeping baby.
Ok, so we go to the Aggies vs. Sac State game yesterday and let's just say it won't soon be forgotten. I got there first with Oliver and Molly and it was cold and windy. It began to sprinkle just after kick-off when Michael arrived with our friends three children, one of which is only two. Everyone was bundled in layers of rain gear including myself. The two year old promptly fell asleep on Michael so we covered him in a rain coat like a little cocoon. It started to rain a little harder. Then our friend David arrived and it started to rain even harder. By half time it began to downpour but the bands kept playing as determined as ever. All of a sudden, behind the stadium, shot a huge purple vein of lightening followed by pounding thunder! Now we were getting pelted by painful hail and the kids were all screaming, accept for cocoon boy who is still sleeping. We got out of there as quickly as possible belly laughing all the way to a cozy fire. I've definitely earned some football points here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Rain is Back

Yesterday, the rain returned. The ground is so thick with fallen leaves that it sounds like a low drum outside the window. Michael stepped into the garden this morning to inspect the plants, finding some with traces of the small creatures that visit in the night. This afternoon, we'll ride our bikes to another rainy, but fun, football game. Hot cocoa and tri-tip sandwiches are on the menu, yum! We have the next week off school, so I'll be able to tap into my more creative side with the kids. Baking, bike riding and leaf collecting all sound so fun. I usually press leaves in a book for about a week then thread them together to hang in a window. Small oak or Japanese maple work beautifully. Insert a needle next to the stem being sure to tie a small knot to keep it in place before stringing the next one. The sunlight coming through the window brightens the colors of the leaves just beautifully!

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Poem by My Cousin/Niece

Molly came out of class in tears the other day missing her cousin Kiersen. Kiersen is currently living and going to school in Ireland. After hearing this, Kiersen wrote this beautiful poem inspired by the preschool as well as Oliver and Molly.


To the garden the children come
To imagine and bask in endless fun
Skipping, sliding and smiling
Thoughtless flower throwing, reclining
The Pixie Girl and the Soldier Boy
Fill my heart with immeasurable Joy
In the garden the children are learning
to run and chase glades in the morning
Their hands stained with ruptured grass
Sharing with each other a warm belly laugh
Building forts and discovering new sports
While making friends and new cohorts
In the garden the children play
Like romping fawns in the light of day
Swing, sing and shake apples from trees
Taking my hand--like Peter Pan--and teaching me new things
Poking bugs and picking up slugs
running back to give a big hug
-She bops along;that Rebel Soul, ready and willing to break every mould.
With eyes that gleam with mischievous wit, underneath it all deep compassion sits.
-He is cool and calm; that rugged man. Give him a problem; he's got a plan. Although he is resilient and serious, in his heart he is silly and curious.
In the garden the children believe in
All the fairies of the evening
In the dark they flicker and dash
Into the cold mud, their small toes they mash
And when it is time to say good night
I hope for them to hold tight
To the garden that they adore
While new adventures they explore

Thank you Kiersen for this beautiful poem. I will cherrish it always.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Molly is across the bike path having her singing lesson with the neighborhood girls while Oliver has his first violin lesson in our home. Michael and I step outside between the two houses to enjoy the evening and visit with our neighbors. Our neighbor next door shares some pomegranates from her bush and they are so intensely sweet. A warm glow seeps through the thinning grapevines covering our window. His teacher is playing a little tune on the violin while we stand outside listening, the light quickly disappearing, the moon lighting up the vibrant orange persimmon leaves. We give the teacher a couple of the pomegranates and schedule another lesson after Thanksgiving. Just one of those moments when you really get that you have chosen the right path for yourself.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Want My Children's Lunch

Warm and creamy risotto, a chewy organic granola bar and a banana. Now that's what I would want for a school lunch! They've gotten tired of the natural peanut butter and juice sweetened jam on whole sprouted wheat bread. It's nice, on these cooling days, for them to open a hot thermos of comfort food to warm their little bodies. Of course, I kept some risotto home for myself. Here's a recipe for my kids favorite risotto:
add 3 tbs each of butter and olive oil to a large pot or saucepan. Stir in 2 chopped onions, 2 sticks of celery with the leaves, 2 chopped carrots and 2 cups chopped spinach. Once veggies are cooked, add 2 cups of Arborio rice and let cook for a few minutes. Have ready a pot of hot stock (about 67oz) with some white or red wine added for flavor. Add a ladle full at a time to the rice stirring well and letting absorb before adding more. Once your rice is the right texture(we like it nice and soupy with a little firmness) add remaining butter and as much Parmesan cheese as you like! Sometimes we add toasted pine nuts or walnuts.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A View from the Co-op

The winds are blowing today but the air is soft and warm. Dried leaves whirl over streets, bikes pass and people wave. The world has taken on a golden hue. Another pumpkin awaits baking for our Thanksgiving pies. It's time to welcome another holiday season with food, family and fun.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Shhh, the Gnome is Sleeping

Cleaning up Molly's room today was quite a task. She's my little clutter bug and each corner and crevice is filled with trinkets. All very important, of course. While she's sick in bed, I am finally able to try to untangle the ball of twine. I'm almost done when I notice another corner she has set up. Over by the door, sitting on top of a little box and encircled with stones and lace, is a basket covered with a neatly folded blanket. I look over at Michael and gently lift the blanket. Inside the basket, tucked in on his side , is a little gnome she made. He's sleeping so sweetly and we both are nearly in tears. How much longer will we get to experience this wonder? Not much longer, I fear. So the sleeping gnome shall stay in his castle by her door and I get to enjoy this world a little longer.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


We were planning to meet the kids and my mom in San Francisco today but Molly got sick. Instead, we ended up driving down to my mom's to pick her up. Poor thing, it must be a flu. Now we're snuggling in bed with our comfortable pajamas on waiting for Michael and Oliver to come back from the store to make dinner. Molly has requested watermelon, granny smith apples, macaroni and cheese with peas and sausage. Anything else Molly? She seems to have her appetite back! I hope she feels better tomorrow so we can enjoy our Sunday together. I would love to take a bike ride over to the campus arboretum to see all the changing trees and ducks on the pond. Molly says she would like to pack a picnic, again her mind is on food. OK Molly, just get better and tomorrow we shall picnic!

Friday, November 12, 2010


Today I think I'll go to the orchard and pick some persimmons! There are two varieties, the fuyu, which is more like an apple, is ripe and ready for eating. The other needs to be completely soft or it has a bitter, sappy texture. The kids are with my mom for a couple of days and when they get back they'll be so excited to find a pile of beautiful orange persimmons on the table. My mom recently harvested her honey from the hive on her property. She brought 5 jars for me to share with family and friends! I love holding it to the light to see it's dense, opaqueness. It really does seem like liquid gold. Now all we need are some chickens in the family!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


"Often goes the Christ in the stranger's guise." Although I lean more towards nature based beliefs, I love this celebration of bringing light to darkness. Tonight, the kindergarten does their lantern walk at the school and they've been working hard on the lanterns they will carry. Each child bringing their own little light out into a cold, dark night. Crunching over leaves, they are apart of a collective glow. What a powerful symbol, to fill what was once a dark space with such brightness and warmth. To see that together we are a powerful force of love and light. The story of St. Martin has wonderful imagery. It's said that while passing under a bridge, Martin came upon a cold beggar. Martin took his cloak from his own back and tore it in two, sharing it with the man. The man later appeared in a dream, I believe, as Christ. What an important lesson to teach our children, to give love and light. Somehow, bring your own light to the darkness today.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

All School Morning Verse

I use to speak this verse every morning with Oliver and Molly while we home schooled. I'm missing it, so I think I'll use it for myself now.

To wonder at beauty
stand guard over truth
look up to the noble
resolve on the good
this leadeth us truly
to purpose in living
to right in our doing
to light in our thinking
and teaches us trust
in the workings of creation
in all that there is
in width of the world
in the dept of the soul

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Colors on My Bike Ride

My favorite tree

Wow, nature is amazing!

The swing under the walnut tree stands still while children are at school.

Yellow-green leaves with chocolate brown seed pods.

Light streams through the canopy above the Shire.

Gourds decorate a neighbors fence like little swans.

Peach leaves make a beautiful color when dying silks.
Everyday, the colors intensify and everyday I say I need to capture these beautiful trees with a photograph. I finally made myself stop this morning. It's so nice to just stop what you're doing and take notice of nature's fantastic display. If you don't, you might just miss it. Soon a rain will come knocking down the leaves, leaving only bare branches to behold until spring. Take a moment to really soak in these colors while they last!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Field Trip to a Rice Farm

Molly in the cut fields
Loading up the trucks

Beautiful grains.

Rice fields as far as the eye can see.
Both Molly and Oliver's class had a field trip to a local rice farm last Friday. The farmer spoke with everyone and alowed the children to run in the fields. They had so much fun falling down, disappearing beneath the tall stalks and pulling the grains loose. It was so nice to be able to be on a field trip for both my children at once!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Speaking of Snail-io

Across from the third grade garden stands the kindergarten gate.
And watching the gate, is the new Snail-io oven! Working with bare feet in mud and straw, the third grade children, Molly included, built this beautiful outdoor oven for the garden. Next week, they'll fire it up to make homemade pizzas! Michael was able to assist Brian Baker and Mrs. Toy construct this incredible oven. What started out as clay bricks, made by Oliver's class last year, to a mound of sand and finally ended as an amazing sculpture. The children will be so excited to begin using it this week! Check out Brian's web site at http://www.bohemianearthbuilding.com/

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Nutcracker

Almost every year from the time I was very little, my grandparents took me to the Nutcracker ballet in San Francisco. In a new dress and shiny shoes, we would ride the trolley cars singing Christmas carols and click up the marble stairs that led us to our seats. Thick velvet curtains and large chandeliers, it was so beautiful. The orchestra would warm up, the lights go down and a large snowflake appeared on the drawn curtains. It was magic! Now, for the first time, I will be taking my children to the War Memorial Opera House. I can't wait to share this with them. There is nothing like the feeling of San Francisco during the holidays. Such wonderful memories.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Loss

Yesterday, our community suffered the loss of a parent. It was sudden and unexpected leaving a feeling a shock and vulnerability in it's wake. As the primary care giver, he was adored by his two young girls. I can't imagine the loss his wife must feel. Once the girls were safely in their classrooms this morning, the parents began to weep. What was so important to us moments before, now no longer on our minds. My aunt Denise showed up for gardening time and I relayed our sad news. I decided to head out with the kids to get my hands in the earth, to ground and be present. Hands in the soil, sun setting painting a neon pink sky, I feel a sense of peace. Little rows of baby onions we will watch grow as we are watching our children grow. This is a gift, not an entitlement. The sun disappears and a soft mist holds us. A flock of Canadian geese fly overhead their calls ringing like church bells for a sacred mass, reminding me how precious our time here is. I love you all.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Parade of Pumpkins

After Halloween, all the families bring their pumpkins down to the main green to be lit for several evenings. Each day they gather, excitedly rearranging the glowing squash, eating caramel popcorn by a warm fire. Neighbors meet, sometimes, for the first time. One man sits in his wheelchair, his loyal dog laying beside him. He has taken over the organization of this small parade and we all benefit from this simple little tribute to the carved vegetable. Through the dark field they meander, each face different from the last. As we go home for the evening, we pass other neighbors on the way, wheelbarrows full , making their way down the dark paths of the Shire.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

This Morning's Ride

What a beautiful morning! Passing the peach orchard, we notice the leaves beginning to change to that vibrant yellow. The tops of other trees have begun to transition from the tops turning a deep magenta. A haunting mist hangs over large green fields. An older man on his walk moves slowly, each exhale turning to vapor in the cold air. Then we are at the school, parents helping to plant the many donations from a local herb farm. Hands in the soil, their children watching and playing, our resident herbalist bends down to taste one of the green leaves. If there is a healthier place for a young child to flourish, I am not aware. Once again, I am grateful.

Monday, November 1, 2010

What Remains

The day after Samhain/Halloween, what's left behind? A room that was full of warm souls, now just the traces of what was a beautiful night remain. Dishes, food, candy and candle stubs; wilting pumpkins, empty glasses and burnt incense sticks. Memories of what was many years ago and what was moments ago, fill the spirit. One day, we'll be on the altar and these memories that we've created with our children will endure. Maybe they will pour a glass of wine for me!
If I don't see you through the week
See you through the window
See you next time that we're talking on the telephone
And if I don't see you in that Indian summer
Then I want to see you further on up the road
I said, oh won't you come back?
I have to see you my dear
Want you to come back home in the Celtic New Year?