Another Cochise Stronghold Hike: An Arizona Gem

When the late autumn sun is low in the south, it makes the western face of Cochise Stronghold seem a bit flat; here is our hiking destination, a ginormous jumble of boulders:

My mom’s youngest sister, Theresa, drove down from Phoenix to Tucson this past weekend: she picked me up, along with her friend Jeanie and her son Zach (who also live here), and drove us all to St. David, where me met up with my uncle Thomas, who lives there. My mom drove over separately from Sonoita. I took a photo of our group midway through our hike:

Theresa’s friend Jeanie was a real champ, here she is making her way through the boulders:

I just love the views from the western side of the Cochise Stronghold; this is a photo looking down on Treaty (or “Knob”) Hill:

Along the way there was one thing blooming, what looks like Chamisa, and the few pollinators left were numerous and busy:

And there was a lovely colored lizard headed down a rock face:

I’m sure there were other birds and animals in the area, but the sounds of our voices made them invisible. Personally, I’m happy if big predators like mountain lions stay invisible.

Here’s my mom, looking very sporty:

I’m already looking forward to my next trip back!


Recently, I posted about moving cases of home canning into my parent’s new bakery. Here are all the jars of jam, pickles, chutneys and sauces:

Yes, that is a shortwave radio. And don’t be fooled by some of the empty shelves, because on the full shelves the jars are stacked high and deep. Here’s my mom, hard at work; the dining room is taking shape and soon the bakery will be open soon:

Today my brother and I spent some time attaching price tags to all the jam. There are lots of jars, hence lots of hand-written price tags:

Here’s my brother Eric with my mom in the kitchen:

The new cappuccino machine arrived last Friday; my dad whipped up a couple really nice lattes for me while I was pricing:

And the patio is looking fantastic; doesn’t this look like a lovely place to have lunch? If you look through the gate to the faux, decorative hand-powered water pump in the background…..that’s the small residential house behind the bakery.

I’m looking forward to my first cheese danish, that’s for sure.

Two Sheets to the Wind

I just got back from a trip to the Boston area where I spent time with my Aunt Mary, who hasn’t been feeling that well. I had this idea that I’d enjoy some brief visits and have a cheerful impact, then maybe read the NY Times, watch some playoff baseball, enjoy the fall foliage and keep it simple…while managing to show up for the daily 5PM cocktail hour.

But Mary said she had a project for me, something a bit more nuanced than digging up perennials in the garden, and it looked like this, an old, damaged model sailboat:

Back when my cousin Michaela passed away in 2009 (read more here), her cats were living in Mary’s home. During their stay, the cats ate the sails on this treasured old model sailboat my paternal grandmother gave to Mary many years ago. Mary got the first boat he made, but eventually, all of my dad’s siblings got a model boat (the one that was in our family was lost years ago). I guess Mary was tired of looking at the shredded sails, and my task, if I accepted it, was to repair them.

And just to be clear, the leftovers were really ripped apart. I couldn’t tell a scrap of sail from rigging. I actually know nothing about model sailboat sail repair.

But I set to work using some imagination and looking at what was left of the original pattern. I used my cousin Megan’s dining room table, her sewing machine and iron; and I picked up supplies–canvas and several hemp twines–at a local fabric shop. I made my own pattern:

Here’s the job sail. You can actually move it around, too:

The main sail was a bit bigger and trickier. I was apply to keep the original waxed twine that was attached to the mast and boom. Here I am trying to get a somewhat straight seam on the main sail:

The whole project turned out much better than I anticipated. It took a while, but apparently I am able to channel my ancestors–when needed–to come up with some basic sailboat design principles.

The boat was well-received: here I am posing with the refurbished boat with my Aunt Mary:

I don’t know if you’d want to try and sail this on a pond anymore. It was once meant to be utilitarian, but I think it’ll need to serve a decorative purpose now….and ideally one with no more cats!

Moving Jam

Yesterday I borrowed a large Chevy pick up from an obliging work colleague and went to Sonoita to help my parents move 30 cases of jam:

Each case was about 50#;there were about 50 jars in each. My deltoids still hurt.  All the preserves are from the Grasslands Bakery, which closed last year when my folks sold the commercial building; bu tthey sold the building, not all the jam inside of it. Once the bakery was closed we moved all the jam to the extra bedroom at my parent’s home….where it’s been waiting, apparently, for a chance to sit on a store shelf again. Which is about to happen, because while the Grasslands may be forever closed, the very new Monika’s Home Bakery is about to open:

Above is the view of the small dining area in the new bakery; here, I’m looking down the hall from the kitchen door. Below, the view along the other side of the hall, where all the shelves are built and ready for a ton and a half of home canning:

Here are my folks in the kitchen:

And this is another view of the kitchen and the mixer and oven:

What’s very cool about my parents’ new bakery is the small residential home built on the rear part of the property, behind the actual bakery:

Right now, the plan is for the house to be used as a self-catering B&B or holiday rental; how convenient that a B&B should be located behind a….bakery! This is what the inside looks like:

What’s really lovely is the view from the back patio, which faces north; cool in summer, but guaranteed frosty in the winter; at that time of year–and at 5000 feet–the high desert has a real chill in the air:

Pet Therapy Visit

Bearbear and I were certified early this year as a pet therapy team through Pet Partners, the nation-wide organization for pet therapy teams.

Bearbear and I go to a hospital to visit, as well as the Ronald McDonald House, but for obvious reasons we take no photos. Today, however, we were outdoors at Tucson Medical Center’s annual NICU graduation picnic, for babies and their families who have had to spend time in our Newborn Intensive Care Unit. Here’s a nice shot of me and Bearbear in our volunteer uniform, one of my colleagues took the picture:

Studio Upgrade

This is the view of the north side of my sewing room; it’s a bit messy because I’m moving stuff around to get ready for a major upgrade. Well, major for me: the patio door will be removed and the space framed up and then a window put in, and a skylight is going in the ceiling. The fellows who did my window installation a few years are doing the work:

Here I’ve cleared stuff away, which is to say I’ve stuffed everything in other corners of the house. You must admit, this view is a bit glum:

Especially when you look closely at the patio door; the idiot who installed it did a bad job, check out how the mortar is cracking:

And not just on the inside, on the outside, too; it was getting to the point where this just wasn’t even safe and secure, let alone aesthetically pleasing:

After vacuuming, this is my new view of the north side of my sewing room; much nicer. The dark blob in the center of the skylight is the ceiling fan blade. I love the natural light. Now I have to put all my stuff back!!

More Shadows

Okay, 2 down….

Here’s a close up:

I’m thinking of 5 shadow shapes, total. Tomorrow I’m getting some work done in my sewing room: a new window, a skylight. So now I have to cover stuff with drop cloths in preparation. And of course any home improvement project takes longer than you think, so the drop cloths will likely be down a bit longer than I’d like….but it’s going to look fantastic when it’s done!

Project Projection

This is how it starts when it comes to making shadow shapes: the overhead projector gets dragged into the living room. This is the biggest shadow shape I’m using, here it’s projected on some Pellon True Grid taped to the wall. I outlined it with a sharpie, cut it out, and pinned it on top of a large piece of shiny nylon tulle. I put stabilizer on the back of the quilt top; here I am feeding the shape through my machine and sewing the outline:

Pinning everything together and laying it out requires my large braided rug to be used as a work surface:

The next step: dyeing yarn for the outlines for the shapes. I’m using bright colors to liven things up; the piece is a bit gray so far.  The largest shape requires 20 feet of yarn. I’ll dye small amounts of fabric or yarn in my kitchen sink:

The first completed shape is orange and it’s on the left side: it’s meant to be subtle.

I’m sewing down the second outline now….updates soon.