Mt. Umunhum

Gorgeous day. So I decided to drive to Mt. Umunhum, which has only been open to the public since last September. Mt. Umunhum is a signature site in the South Bay. For 10,000 years this mountain was treasured by native Americans. It was mined in the 1800s and became an Air Force Station in 1957 monitoring the Bay Areas during the Cold War. The signature tower is the only remanent that remains from this period. It can be seen from all over the South Bay.

In the 1990s, when I was at YSI (the Youth Science Institute) I was taken up to this site, which was not open to the public, by a County Parks Supervisor. At that time there were a number of buildings that had been abandoned by the military. She was hoping we could open a YSI site in one of them. But since it was more that a half hour drive up a winding mountains road, it did not see like a site that most people would be willing to access. It was a nice idea.

The mountain towers above the Bay Area at 3486 feet (a thousand feet above where we live at the top of another mountain). It has a 360 degree view of all the surrounding area including all of Silicon Valley, the coast and parts north and  south. And someday it may be part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail that is slowly taking place that may offer a trail that rivals the Appalachian Trail.

Even as a mountain woman, this site takes my breath away.

New Beginnings

An immense stately Italian pine graced the entrance to the only main street through the small village of Saratoga when I first moved there forty-eight years ago. It was over a hundred years old at the time. Saratoga marked the end of the urban world that was forming as the once small towns in the valley started uniting to become a sprawling metropolis. It marked my continuing migration toward the mountains and watched over me as I found my place in those mountains.

For almost a half a century I passed that tree almost every day. At last in 2015 it became that tree’s time to return to the earth as we all must do someday. Every day after that, passing by that spot, I was aware of the hole in the air that remained.

But, just like the old tree almost two hundred years ago, a new tree had now sprung up and was waiting. It was time for a new beginning. May this newcomer prosper and watch over people like me a hundred years from now when I too have become part of the earth like the stately old pine. I will always remember that lovely old tree.

New Beginnings from CApoppy on Vimeo.

Dyeing in the Sun

A few years back I grew some marigolds. As the blossoms drooped I harvested them and dried them, but then stuck then in a cupboard and forgot about them. In a fit of boredom during the rains this year, that kept me inside more than I am used to, I discovered them and decided it was time to use them. I boiled them for a couple of hours until the water turned a deep golden brown, strained off the liquid and sealed it in a gallon jar.


Then came spring and summer with days of soaring temperatures that once again kept me inside. I spent some time spinning a fleece that had waited for me for several years. I plied a small one-ounce skein to see how I liked it and hit on the brilliant idea of using my marigold liquor to see what would happen. It was too hot to turn on the stove for this experiment so I decided to go solar. In a small jar just large enough to hold the skein, I dissolved a scant half teaspoon of alum in water and added a pinch of tartaric acid. In went the skein, on went the lid, and out it went to a table in the yard to sit in the sun for a day.
The marigold liquid had developed a layer of mold on the top, but it peeled of easily in one piece. The mordanted skein now went into this dye bath for another couple of days in the sun. And it seems to have worked.

marigold dye with wool in a one-gallon jar

Now on to the next step. I am not sure what that will be.

Wonderful Wood

Recently Gordon made an inventory of our surroundings and the many things he has built over the years. It is very nice to live among things that have been created by your own hands. Here is a gallery from our house.