Knitting and things orange . . .

Do you ever have an after-the-fact realization that, once you’ve seen it, you are surprised you never noticed it before? I had such a moment the other evening while buying, probably an unnecessary yet still needed, new round knitting needle. I tend to tuck my knitting needles into bags with a few spools of yarn, running off to the park, or the beach, or the who-knows-where I think they might prove handy to bide my otherwise lovely time, but fill in the edges of feeling useful. I think most of the people who tend to knit or crochet, love the yarn and the experience, but also love the feeling of having something to do when they are just sitting and waiting, or chatting, or watching a movie, or something where not too much visible forward productivity is happening. Anyway, with all that chatter finished, I was at the fabric store late in the evening and found the perfect yarn for a project I had high on my list for making. The yarn’s package said it took size nine, American needles, so being that I often can’t find which needles I am looking for at which exact moment, I decided a new pair would not hurt my projects likeliness of actually being executed . . . But nines looked so big, and as my eyes stretched across the sizing options, I decided sixes were my perfect match. Well, as I picked them up I also realized I always pick sixes, or perhaps sevens. They are the size needles that feel right in my fingers and look right to my eyes. Even thicker yarn tends to work best for me with this size needle. 
I am a relatively loose knitter, so maybe this is why. Anyway, I have probably bought this same size needle eighty-percent of my needle-buying career. Does anyone else have a favorite knitting needle size? Maybe everyone loves size sixes . . . 
I had a similar thing happen when I was a teenager. I always disliked orange, I never could understand how someone’s eyes could view it as pretty. To me it was a road construction color, orange cones and orange vests . . . I still don’t like that shade of it, it is so extreme and flat, but at the time I didn’t even like winter squash orange. Then slowly, creeping-up-on-me-ish, when I was put to make a color choice, I’d pick orange. I don’t know where it started. I think of a blanket I was given in particular where the orange-ness was so warm and complete, perhaps that had its influence. 
     
                       I guess that it is called learning about yourself . . . hmm . . . ~ Marica

Into the Flowers . . .

Why are flowers and flower gardens so magical?
I am never tired of looking at, smelling, or somehow involving myself with flowers . . .

 Sometimes it rubs off on the kids . . . Especially when scissors are involved . . .
 I love watching them carefully clip dead blooms as they chatter about this and that . . .
How they are being “so careful” 
 They are helping, and they are enjoying themselves . . . 
What better a combination can be asked for ? ? ?

                                                               ~ Marica

Dinner of Broccoli Soup, Vegan and Gluten-Free . . .

Everyone has had a bit of a cold lately . . . The weather has been taking an Autumnish tone . . . 
So in respect of sniffling noses and colder days, there has been a fair amount of 
soup consumed around here . . .
 The first soup was a fiery tortilla soup with fresh grown cayenne, and thai peppers . . .
 Tonight’s soup started with potatoes,
 and as it grew into its full form
 took on an Indian flavor . . . 
 Broccoli and Potato, vegan and gluten-free soup
In a pot with an inch or so of water, simmer until extremely soft:

3 new potatoes, sliced thinly
Add and simmer a bit longer:

1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
2 teaspoons yellow curry powder
4 cups water
Add:
8 cups fresh broccoli, chopped finely
Pinch nutmeg
Dash of dill
Salt and black pepper to taste
A generous squeeze of lemon
Optional: Cayenne, chili powder or pepper flakes.
                                                       Hope you all are staying well  ~ Marica

Some of this last week . . .

We have had a lot going on the this last week . . .
 I thought I’d put a mostly photographic post of some of the fun stuff we did . . .
Pancakes for snack . . . 
 Twelve-times tables . . . 
 Exploring squash . . . 
 Drawing character cards . . . 
Project finished . . . 
 Practicing letters . . . 
 Sand play . . . 
  Making bird’s nests . . . 
                                                           ~ Marica

A tid bit of Santa Barbara . . .

Every so often my mom and I go and spend some time together in Santa Barbara. It is only a short drive through the mountains to the coast where it sits comfortable at an almost always sixty to seventy degree temperature. It is one of the older cities in California. The architecture is lovely, and although it is quite touristy, it is still a nice place to spend an afternoon. 
 Many of the buildings are spanish influenced, due to the spanish settlers 
from several hundred years ago . . .
 Around here it is rare to see a building that is even much over a century old.
 It was a wonderful experience when I visited France as a teenager
 to see buildings that dated back a thousand years. Bricks are always a breath of fresh air to me,
we see them so seldom. I was trying to use the word seldomly only to find it doesn’t exist:

(“Seldomly is not a word. Seldom is already an adverb, so the adverbial -ly adds nothing.

This error will likely continue to appear as long as seldom remains a relatively seldom used word.”)
 There are the most amazing trees . . . I think the warm coastal climate 
allows for delicate species to thrive . . . 
But what we usually come for  is lunch . . . 
We have a favorite Indian Buffet we eat almost every time. . .
And we dissolve into unsweetened chai . . . My mom will down several cups . . . 
Often we make our way through the remnants store. 
The itchy inspiration in there alone always leaves me with spinning ideas . . .
 Rolls and rolls of possibility . . .
Rightly useful information . . . 
 Bolts with the common thread of red . . . Ah, so satisfying . . .
Leaving the fabric behind, we passed giant stuffed beings . . . 
Then a whole different kind of inspiration lured us in . . .
 Trays and trays of beads . . .
 Hanging strands of potential projects with colors that drip from the rainbow directly . . . 
 At our last fun stop I came across these amazing bird houses . . . 
I am now so determined make one of my own . . . 
                                ~ Marica

Wabi-Sabi

A while back we were given a picture book titled Wabi Sabi. The story is simple, with lovely illustrations, telling about a cat named Wabi Sabi. The book was nice, but it was the meaning of the word that has stuck with me for years. Wabi-sabi is a Japanese word and as wikipedia describes: “Wabi-sabi (?) represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”.[1] It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence (三法印 sanbōin?), specifically impermanence (無常 mujō?)


When I first read the meaning of wabi-sabi I felt relieved, like there was finally a word to fill an 
over-looked gap in the english language. When I sit by the creek and feel that perfect calm, when my sleeping kids feet are poking themselves out of a curled blanket, the absolute beauty that passes without me noticing unless I look and see. This post is a compilation of the wabi-sabi happening around here . . .

The giant volunteer squash that hold an almost noble-air 
as they lie like beached whales on our table . . . 
The desert flowers that bloom everyday in so many colors, 
than close up and are done once evening has made its mark.
My cup-rack full . . .
The spool of wool a sweet friend gave me . . . too lovely to use, but I have started to indulge . . .
And last but not least, the orange watering can that makes me so happy every time I see it . . . 

                    Any wabi-sabi over in all your directions?? ~ Marica

This Thursday Morning . . .

I’m usually not much of a donut fan. Round an pretty as they are, after a few bites I feel like an oil-rig must be lying in wait around the corner, thrilled to have found a new supply to tap. But on this lovely morning, while we all were out at our project table sculpting away with colorful clay. . .
Beast love?? . . . With all our different inspirations . . .
I found all I wanted to make was cakes and donuts. 
Oddly the donuts truly called to me until at last I decided I really did want an 
actual donut, not just a figurine of colorful modeling substance.
I’ve made donuts one time before, and I prefer them grandly to the hole in the wall bakery’s version. Of course they are remarkably less frilly, but they are far more digestible.
No matter if I make these fifty more times, I don’t think I’ll ever get
used to the degree of oil needed to fry these sweet things. 
But they surely did come out yummy . . . 
I offer proof . . .
                                                                                      ~Marica

Pie . . .

Below is an essay I was going to submit to a contest where the entry is to write about a pie that 
changed your life. Unfortunately, I was quick to set my fingers to the keys, I didn’t check the 
entry deadline first . . . September 3rd. Oh bother, well I guess that’s what I get for being overly 
enthusiastic about pie. 

Copyright Marica Natali Thompson 2011
A Storybook Pie . . . When I think back to being a child, and all the luscious things that brought me to truly hold pie in my head as the crème de la crème of creations, it was the pie I read about in “Farmer Boy” from Laura Ingles Wilder’s Little House series.  It wasn’t just one, it was a pantry full, a shelf lined with pies and doughnuts and cookies. It was the pies that the book describes, eaten for lunch, eaten with cream, taken on picnics. It was the pie that in my mind would someday be at my own picnic, by a lake, by a creek, or on a grassy field. The mastery was of the sort that only happens when you truly need pie. This is not a bakery that turns out a dozen perfectly colored specimens a day. It was a pie with hand crumbled flour and butter, rolled with a grandmothers rolling pin, placed in a wood stove oven, and eaten with the knowledge that these were the last of the peaches and blueberries until the Earth made round again and summer blessed the weary farmer.
I began making piecrust when I was about twelve-years-old. My mother was afraid, as great of a cook as she is, of the difficult delicacy in preparing a pie dough. My father, being a believer in truly healthy eating, shied away from white flour and butter alike. I remember my mother purchasing whole grain wheat flour that was of a whiter variety, hoping this would curb my desire to bake with the unholy whiteness that adorns our shelves in so many nations. But refined white flour hosts its own beauty that cannot be matched or replicated. It is the consistency that holds the bar above alternative grains. At twelve my seriousness weighed in on the decisionary process, and I don’t quiet remember how, but we ended up with a jar of flour suitable for real pie-making.  Such things are not forgotten easily. I rejoiced in my new freedom of experiment, and baked with the gusto of a young pony newly at pasture. I have since spent countless hours trying to create a perfect gluten-free option. And although I have come close to beautiful success, the truth be told, nothing beats the storybook pie with real white flour and in season fruit.

                                                                                                    ~ Marica

Painting ode to a few things I love . . .

Painting hasn’t been my top priority for a quite a while now. It is one of those things where I have in and out fazes. But lately I have pulled out my thick pad of bristol paper and messed around just a bit. I have to say I think my favorite time to listen to music is when I am doing a project or driving. The best part of listening to music when I draw or paint is the effect it has on the outcome. As a teenager David Bowie, Pink Floyd and Bob Dylan dripped from my pictures. Lou Reed’s Rock and Roll Animal, darkened the lines and helped me to move into the paper. 
I started this latest water-colour while watching a random documentary on sneakers. I guess Run D.M.C. was a huge part of making sneakers a popular fashion. Anyway, their music was interwoven through-out the film. As my ballet dancers formed on the page, so did the record player, and no longer was Tchaikovsky  going to be the satisfactory assumption as to what they were dancing to. I roughly picked a few of my favorite artist’s albums to be the records on the shelf . . . 
                                                                                                                                                 Copyright  Marica Thompson 2011
I spent from the time I was eight until I was fifteen years-old, studying ballet. I always loved drawing the dancers because I could make their “turn-out perfect” something I had difficulty with, their arches lovely, mine were acceptable, and their ballet legs long “I ain’t a tall lady”
                                                                 Anyway, good September 12th to you all ~ Marica

A quick sketch of times past . . .

The last couple days it has been a million degrees again. Even nighttime is not really a break from the hot air. Luckily I think we are on are way back down the thermometer, cross my fingers.
 I thought I’d post this drawing I did last night. It started as a doodle, and ended up with this picture that reminded me of a while back when my now five-year-old baby was still an inhabitant of my belly. 
Bellies are always my favorite to draw . . .
                                            Cheers ~ Marica