Sunday, October 18, 2009


We live near the best pumpkin patch I have ever seen. It's called Bear Creek Pumpkin Patch.

To get there, take CA99 to Merced. Get off at the exit to Hwy 140 eastbound toward Yosemite. Drive a ways out of town, between the orchards and the railroad tracks, until you reach Plainsburg Road. You can't miss it; there's a big trailer with a sign directing you to the pumpkin patch. Turn right. Drive about 4 miles to Baxter Road and turn left, following the handpainted pumpkin signs all the way. Park in the dusty lot, try to grab a wagon, and enjoy.

We've visited this pumpkin patch every single year since we moved here. We went yesterday with Sally and fam. Bliss. I don't know if I got enough of it. I might have to go back and drop another wad on cute squash and gourds, and this time enjoy the zinnias and sunflowers and do the corn maze. Yesterday I was a bit too busy chasing short people. But it was a perfect autumn day. Warm, breezy, ideal for judging a rainbow of pumpkins and snapping photos of the cuties. There were even a couple of guys sitting in the shade playing bluegrass. So perfectly beautiful.

If this joint doesn't end up in a major magazine sooner rather than later (Sunset, are you listening? I really want you to get this one before Martha does) I am going to be shocked and appalled. That's the PR lady in me speaking.

We had acorn squash tonight with our London Broil and bulgur wheat and grape salad. I have been reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver (skipping the preachy parts, sorry) and today I feel like I am partaking of the whole shebang.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

California love

I have just been thinking about long lists of things I am going to miss about California and Merced. I am sure this list will grow longer. And then I will start a new list of things I love about Montana.

Italian cypress
Chinese pistache
Valley oaks
Year-round farmer's market
The bounteous Hispanic and Asian sections at Food 4 less
99c Only
Fresh figs (eating these today with new wistfulness)
Local avocados
Flip-flops in October
Morning fog giving way to afternoon sun
2 hours from the beach
2 hours from Yosemite
The bird refuge
Bear Creek trail
Happy Cows
Lake Yosemite
Daily summer swims
The strawberry stand on McKee
The flea market
Downtown parades for Veteran's Day and Christmas

More to come.

Friday, October 16, 2009

My little town

One thing I have wanted to do since I started thinking we might move: Go around my town taking pictures. Not that I am a great photographer - quite the opposite, I think - but I want to just imprint some of the things I have particularly loved seeing as I've driven and driven and driven around the streets of this town, listening to kids' music or loud girl rock or NPR (or whatever else).

So we did a photo expedition for a home school activity today. As soon as we pulled out of the driveway we saw a garage sale. And that was the end of S's patience for photo expeditions. All he wanted to do was get back and see if he could find anything good. In fairness, he has had some excellent luck lately with mint 1990s action figures.

Nonetheless, I made a little loop in the minivan and snapped some of my visual favorites. It's a gray day. We may have to try this again when we have a blue sky. Lucky thing about being in California for several more weeks: that's pretty much sure to happen.

Friday, October 09, 2009

In the bowl of the KitchenAid

Not a food post! Surprise!

Yesterday was the long awaited day. Dr. G. accepted a job. A post-Ph.D. job. A job for which he is qualified and prepared. A full-time job with benefits and appropriate pay. I think he is going to love it.

It's in Montana. Funnily enough, one of the places we used to discuss, back when we were childless and sort of drifting. We took long walks at night and talked and talked and debated and discussed and wondered and dreamed about our future.

We think we will move in December, although it may actually be sooner - we have to negotiate that. It is going to be beautiful. It is going to be fun. It is going to be cold. It is going to be tough.

I looked up Facebook groups related to our future new hometown and they are mostly about how it is for BAMFs. If you don't know what that stands for, it is mostly swearwords and I'm sorry I made you think about it. But I am seriously considering a big gun and a big dog, to go with my dreams of a greenhouse and tall pines and hardy apple trees and lilacs and maybe chickens. And maybe, if I am lucky, some killer Craftsman -style woodwork in the interior of the house. Although I wouldn't turn up my nose at a couple of the renovated Victorians I have seen in the appropriate price range, or a newer house on a couple of acres outside of town. Miraculously (so it seems to someone who's lived on top of the California housing bubble for the last six years) I have seen examples of all these that we might be able to afford.

We are going to have the chance to learn about a lot of family history stuff, because G's parents both grew up there. We are going to be fairly close to some family members we know and love and even closer to some extended family members we will have a new chance to get to know and love. We are even going to be 6 or 7 hours closer to my family in Salt Lake than we are right now.

We are going to have to leave this amazing place that has been our home for 6+ years and the wonderful people who have made it home for us. As you take that in, consider that I have never, ever lived anywhere for 6 years. In my life. Central California is, in that way, more a home than any other place I've ever been. This is where my kids have started school, where we have served in, like grownup callings at church, where I had an amazing and beloved job, where we have walked through fire to adopt our darling K and Z, where we have had the best support system you could possibly dream of as a grad student family.

We have loved it when the Chinese pistache trees turn red, when "white Christmas" means an impenetrable tulle fog over brilliant green winter grass, when the creek comes up to the tops of its banks in the spring, when the orchards blossom in the spring rain creating the most perfect blend of fragrance imaginable, when the strawberry stand opens in April just in time for my birthday, even when the summer heat sends us fleeing for the coast or the mountains.

Since I started telling people about this, I have gotten a couple of "happy for you, sad for me" reactions. Well, my feelings are mixed, too. I hope everybody knows that.

I know my Sally Lou's heart is breaking most of all. This girl saved my life when we moved here all destitute and lonely six years ago. How lucky I was to have a dear dear friend only an hour away. How lucky we have been to see each other just about every month, sometimes more, for six whole years. It is going to be hard to leave. That is very mixed-up.

But I do think all this is going to bake up pretty nicely. I have to hope so.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Sunny, funny face

K and I got a little bored at Pack Meeting last week. (As Z likes to put it, "This is getting bowwing!") Not that we don't love the Announcements song ad infinitum, a bottomless detergent box full of goofy cheers (Cheer detergent, of course) and an endless parade of cute boys getting awards. Pack Meeting is great.

But you have to admit, this is even more fun. Do we foreshadow a career in the dramatic arts, perhaps?