During this week of temperatures in the 80s, I decided it was time to plant a new raised garden bed with a few choice treats—basil, tomatoes, peppers and some green bean seeds. Of course, the next day the weather turned. An ocean front dropped the temp to the 50s and, at the same time, created winds up to 60 mph. The power went out during the night; the internet antenna swung out of alignment; a limb from the box elder crashed into the back of the house and another from the elderberry dropped on the patio.

The pond disappeared under a blanket of debris. Litter surrounded the car and pollen obscured the windows. Pine cones were everywhere.

When the wind abated a little, I started the clean up by tackling the box elder limb, the largest project. Little by little I whacked off limbs and loaded them into the car to take out to the yard waste recycling container. By dividing, I managed to conquer most of the small limbs and pack them out.The poor little plants in the garden are begging to go back to the safe and secure nursery from whence they came.

There is still plenty of clean up to do, but I may spend the rest of the day just thinking about it. Tomorrow is another day and summer may return.

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.


Jaime and Joey, Zapotec weavers

On November 14th I had the opportunity to meet two weavers, Jaime an 8th generation Zapotec weaver and his partner Joey, at their home in Lathrop in the Central Valley of California. What a nice day!

They are producing modern Zapotec textiles in the traditional way on looms build by Zenon Hipolito, Jaime’s father. I was invited into their home/studio. There I saw the three hand-built looms in what would otherwise be the living room of their condominium.

There was another loom in the garage that Jaime’s father was rebuilding to accommodate their current orders. Not only does he build the looms, he also makes the shuttles by hand and has built a spinning wheel which Joey uses to spin some of their rug yarn. Many of their yarns are hand-dyed.

On the front porch they carefully tend cactus pads which are home to cochineal beetles. These beetles produce an ancient natural dye that is hard to come by. Zenon, Jaime’s father, harvested the beetles and cactus pads in the Los Angeles area. The cactus pads are hung from a wooden frame that is carefully covered with plastic sheeting to keep the temperature from dropping too low in California’s inland valley. The beetles create a fluffy white covering which protects them from drying out it the dessert. When the beetles grow into a large colony under their protective fluffy coating, they are harvested, dried, and eventually ground into a powder that produces a lovely red dye.

My weaver/friend Ev went with me. We were treated not only to an amazing array of their work but also to their wonderful hospitality.

The day ended with lunch at the Ghiradelli Chocolate factory just a half a mile a way. What a trip!