scarp in driveway

Gravity

I once had a dream that I was floating in the air just above the ground. I could see the entire California coast. I could sail over the hills and dip down close enough to Earth that I could talk to people I saw. No tugs, no pulls, no cares, I just floated along.

But eventually I awoke and felt the force of the earth holding me down, tugging me and pulling me in various directions. I had to obey the rule of gravity.

It isn’t just humans and animals, and plants that feel the weight of the world. The very ground itself is subject to the pull of gravity. It sits firmly in place until it is moved by an earthquake or a storm. And so it is this year. The rains have come and melted the earth. Chunks of it have been pulled downward under the weight of this water. And I have witnessed it personally.

As the rains came wave after wave starting in February, the access road to our house in the mountains tried to channel the water off and send it harmlessly downhill. For the forty-six years we have lived here it has always worked this way–until this year. The incessant rain sought the lowest point in the road and worked its way into the soil eventually turning it soft and muddy.

First there was a crack in the drive. The crack widened and started to sink. It sank lower and lower and new cracks appeared. The rains continued. Part of the road broke off and sank another four feet. Some of it tumbled down a hundred feet, or so, to a road below on the hillside. That road started to crack and to slump. This scarp on our mountain is on its way downhill. Our beautiful mountain is on its epic journey to become part of the landscape below.

We are will aware of the gravity of our situation.

A New Generation of Spinners

“I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.” — Lily Tomlin as “Edith Ann”

McClellan Ranch Preserve Fiber Festival 2015 from CApoppy on Vimeo.

Several of my longtime friends and I who belong to the Glenna Harris Weavers Guild often do hand-on demonstrations locally. How much fun it is to show kids how cloth is created and to let them try their hands at it! And it just isn’t the kids who have fun.

Looming Large

For 25 years we have lived not in a house, but in a studio. The first thing anyone noticed when they came in either door was my beautiful 60-inch, 8 harness loom sitting prominently between both doors.

Cranbrook loom

In 1990, Convergence, a biennial national conference for handweavers, was held in San Jose at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I was in charge of facilities. Vendors came from all over the country as they set up shop for the five day event. They brought their wares, set up booths throughout the three convention halls and when it was over, they packed up what was left and took it home.

But one vendor, not wishing to pay for shipping back to Michigan for his top-of-the-line loom, a beauty, was happy to sell it to me for half price, send it to my house and set it up.  This big devil has been well used and well loved. But a time comes when one wonders where this treasure will land in the future. It is not just for anyone.

Then, as web mistress of the Glenna Harris Weavers Guild website, I received an email from Kristin who had relocated to California from the East Coast and had been weaving professionally. She had not been able to move her loom and was looking for something similar to what she had there.

The fit seemed perfect. A flurry of emails followed and today I met Kristin. Between the two of us we figured out how to disassemble and wrangle the loom into and onto her mini-van for a trip to southern California. She is looking forward to dancing with this devil

I am delighted and think she is too. I expect there may be more to this tale later.

The Last Pine

I am saying farewell to an old tree.

I discovered Saratoga more than fifty years ago. But the tree and its two companions had already been here for more than half a century. To get to the quaint village from where I was teaching, I drove down two-lane Sunnyvale-Saratoga Road toward the mountains I loved, through orchards with apricots, prunes and plums on either side. They are long gone.

The village itself consisted of a Main Street about five or six blocks long. Turning right from Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road into the village, there were three huge pine trees on the left that marked the entrance to the village and marched on to the left down Saratoga-Los Gatos Road shading the historic route to another small foothill town. These pines were, and have continued to be, a source of pride and a symbol of the history of this still small town.

I moved to Saratoga in 1970, living in a small rental house along Saratoga Creek just a block from Main Street and the trees. Two years later we moved to the top of the mountain behind Saratoga. I have passed these pines almost every day since.

The pines have endured and sheltered Saratoga as it has grown from a small foothill town to an upscale suburb. Sunnyvale-Saratoga Road is now four lanes with freeway access and has changed its name to DeAnza Boulevard. In Cupertino where once there was only a grain elevator and a few small businesses, there now is a gigantic Apple campus. Main Street in Saratoga has changed but still maintains a small town feel–in spite of the Starbucks on the corner.

It is right next to this Starbucks where they just took down the last of the iconic pines. Italian Stone Pines do not last as long as redwoods and these have endured many changes. The first to go happened a decade or two ago. That tree was hardly missed because the other two had grown so large. Then a few years ago during a very wet winter the second one started leaning dangerously and had to be taken out before it fell on nearby businesses. But this last tree remained, propped up with huge timbers, shading tables and a Wednesday farmers market.

But at last it has succumbed to drought or perhaps old age. It turned from green to brown. It will return to the earth from which it sprung leaving a hole in the sky and leaving us with a lingering knowledge of the changes that we must embrace both in our world and our selves.

Saratoga tree from CApoppy on Vimeo.

Running Around

2015-04-26_Great_RaceI did it again. What was I thinking? Another weekend, another run. But this one is special. It starts in Saratoga, just at the bottom of my hill, and ends in Los Gatos.  And I have been doing it since 1997. Half of the highway is closed and around 2000 people get a chance to run, rather than drive, on this beautiful narrow highway. As with most runs I end up in my sweet spot, behind the real runners and in front of the people taking a walk. It is here that I have a chance to meet some lovely people.

My favorites are the people with kids old enough to want to do the run but young enough to be challenged by it and to be challenging to their parents. The really young ones have two speeds: fast forward and stop. Sometimes I pass parents pleading with their child to run a little bit farther. The kids that are a little older try to keep going but sprint  (sometimes challenging their parents) and then run out of steam and need to walk a while. When I have a chance to pass them at my slow and steady pace, I ask the kids if they know the story of The Hare and the Tortoise. Usually they do. I tell them I am the tortoise and they are the hare and maybe this time the hare will win. I challenge them to pass me by the time we get to the big tree, or the next road marker, or the top of the hill. And they do. We often repeat this as the tortoise catches up to them and passes them again. But they always get to the finish line first with their often grateful and exhausted parents in tow.

Will I do it again? I’ll let you decide!

Frost Family gathered in Portland

An Engagement and a Graduation

A leisurely, but occasionally smoky, two-day drive up I-5 to Portland culminated in a three-day celebration of two memorable events: the engagement of Brian Frost and Sydney Eustrom and the graduation from nursing school of Julia Frost and Josh Caswell. Brian and Julia represent one of the more recent branches of the family tree. Participating with us in various parts of the celebration were parents Theresa and Tom Frost, grand-parents Chuck and Lou Frost, uncle Peter Frost, and a number of members of the Eustrom family. Here is a glimpse into the weekend.