Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Tuesday, October 27, 2009


When Daryl was fifteen he headed off to Lake Tahoe in the US with the Rotary Exchange Student Program. Then due to some amazing twist of fate (stuff up but let's put a posative spin on it), young Daryl ended up at the home of Glen and Carleen Lewis in a smallish agricultural town in the heart of The Central Valley named Tulare. Glen was at the time Principal of one of the local high schools and Carleen a teacher, but they also happened to live on a "walnut ranch", and so the love affair with that particular nut began!

Glen and Carleen embraced Daryl as if he was their own son, and so began a thirty year friendship that has seen many harvests, our own walnut farm up and running, marriages, babies and sadly losses with Carleen's passing this year. 

But the relationships formed through this one chance meeting are so far beyond just Daryl, Glen and Carleen and too complex and interwoven to go into here on my blog, but I picture a tornado where the relationships that began all those years ago still whip and weave around each other. I have to give an example.... After Daryl, Glen and Carleen had another student stay. His name was Pale and he was from Spain. Daryl and his brother Don visited Glen and Carleen
 during that year and met Pale. A couple of years later while visiting Spain, Daryl catches up with Pale and is introduced to Pale's friend Maria. Some time after that, Daryl's brother visits Pale in Spain and also meets Maria. They have now been married for about 16 years and have two children. That is just one example!

So back to our road trip to Tulare. I don't know why I love Tulare so much. It is a little run down in parts, it is flat, there is a strange haze like the sun is slightly filtered through smog coming up from LA, it is true farming country where the dairies are huge and the cattle barely see sunshine or grass, the cotton fields stretch on like a sea of white fluff and the walnut orchards are big and lush and shady. Must be the farmers wife in me. Of course the outlet shopping is sensational so that also hooks me! But I think this town had a big effect on Daryl, it was life changing and character forming. I imagine him there, working out in the field with Glen, playing high school football and asking Jennifer Sae to the Graduation Prom. 

It was my (and Phemie's) fifth visit to Tulare and I will never get tired of that amazing drive through the Sierra Nevada Mountains and then suddenly the mountains are behind you and the vast never ending plains of the Central Valley stretch before you. Until next time....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I'm back. Made it to my knitting class maybe even a little ahead of the other students (thank goodness for The golden Girls marathon on late night telly). So the knitting has been put aside for the needle felting and that isn't going well. Ailee thinks her lion's head looks like a brown flower. What am I going to do? I'm committed! I've told so many people I'm needle felting this years Halloween costumes I have to keep going. I can't go to Costco now (and get the costumes the girls actually wanted), I have a reputation to establish as that amazing Australian woman who needle felted those beautiful costumes! Maybe Ailee could just be a big brown flower! I'll run that by her in the morning.

So The Munari/O'shannassy's left us and the overcast skies of that weekend opened up and it rained for three days, night and day, solidly. Amazing. I had to go out and buy wet weather gear because there is no such thing as rainy day schedule at Waldorf, no, it's get out in that rain and jump around in those puddles ( so long as you are dressed appropriately of course). Phemie told her class how exciting it would be if we got rain at home like this.

But on the forth day the sun came out and it was back to the banana lounges and there hasn't been a cloud in the sky since. I was getting ready to make soup a week ago and now we are back in the pool. 

We did have a birthday last week, Pheme turned 11. One of my personal favorite birthday traditions in our family is letting the girls make their own cake. They love it and if you think craft causes me stress well baking just tips me over the edge! (Hi Lee, Hi Jules). Using her array of Halloween decorations (Thanks Lee), she set off to create a spider web cake. Yummy. 

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I'm on a knitting deadline and if I don't finnish the body by Tuesday night then I can't start the sleeves and it's the last class and anyone who knows me (hi Mum), will know what stress this knitting business can cause me plus Halloween is fast approaching and I've told the girls that this year we are not throwing cash at the costume shop, nup, Mummy's going to needle felt you all a costume! So blogging has taken a back seat at the moment but after Tuesday I am back on board with loads of photos to post.

Monday, October 12, 2009

No it can't be the true, cloudy in Santa Barbara! Sadly for our visitors from Down Under, we experienced the first really cool and cloudy weekend. Still managed to have a great time, going to the Santa Barbara Seafood Festival ( oh how Daryl loves a festival especially when there is a craft market attached!), followed by some shopping in State Street, and then an adults night out starting with drinks at a wine bar and dinner at a mexican restaurant. 

Sunday was slightly slower, lots of pool time ( freezing as it was there are some braver that I), trip to Costco for undies, cameras and champagne, dinner, bed. Hope they are now having a great time heading up the 101 on their way to San Fran!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Back to the subject of knitting for just one moment. I have to mention that one of the most amazing knitters I have ever known is my own mother and I am so grateful that she had the patience to teach my sister and I to knit. Thanks Beryl xxxx

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It would be remiss of me as one of the founding members of the Kensington Ladies Auxiliary (better known as the KLA), if I didn't post some updates of my craft endeavors! One of the things I really wanted to do whilst I was here was to attempt some more difficult knitting, and after a few attempts at the Elizabeth Zimmerman's Febuary Baby Jacket ( read crying and swearing and eventually ripping!), I booked myself in at the local wool shop for a six week workshop in making that exact cardigan but in a large size ( coincidence or what! ). I am well into it and it has become an obsession, even stopping me from reading Twilight which I confess I was also becoming a little too into for a forty something person! So I thought I had passed the difficult bits but this afternoon saw me heading down to the wool shop, five hot and tired kids in tow, in a panic because I couldn't work out what I had done wrong and after many attempts at fixing it, I yelled to the girls ( who were all happily playing a the park), "GET IN THE BLOODY CAR I'VE DROPPED A STITCH". They all knew what that could mean for the rest of the afternoon so all aboard and off we went. 

Much to my surprise (and embarrassment), it seemed, after close inspection, I had actually managed to fix it myself! Hmmm...well what do you know? I think the shop owner thinks I'm a freak. 

So anyway, my dear friend Ange is the only knitter I know clever enough to have finished this cardigan so if I can do this I will be very pleased. Pity about the poo brown wool I chose, it will be great at the farm!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

It is Sunday afternoon. We had breakfast by the beach and a play in the sand but now Daryl has headed off to a conference in Palm Springs and I am faced with a couple of days here without him. I can't quite put my finger on why I find it harder here when he is away. I guess it is not having friends and family around and that feeling of being quite alone up here in the hills. it is also very windy today so I have closed up the house and we will probably hang out inside. The girls are watching Tarzan at the moment, giving me a little peace and quiet to blog. 

Discovered a great beach yesterday down behind the university. Must say though, the sea of buffed gorgeous youngsters was a little too Abercrombie Catalogue. Fortunately the woman in charge of keeping people and dogs away from the Plover colony was making sure everything remained PG, perched on her chair with her sandwich board lodged in the sand describing the plight of this sweet little coastal bird.

Went for a drive through the grounds of the University of Santa Barbara, had to take a photo of all these bikes! It is a huge campus and students just pedal around. 

Going to the park with a coffee and my knitting just isn't the same without some mates! I have Haze of course but even she isn't as keen without her buddies. 

On Friday morning we all headed to Goleta beach to celebrate the Michaelmas festival. Michaelmas is a celebration of the equinox, when as the colder seasons approach and the days become shorter, we recognize the need to gather our inner strength and resilience to face the winter ahead. It is about challenges and bravery and so the school began its morning with Saint Michaelmas slaying the dragon. As the children gather in a circle and begin singing to the deep loud beat of a drum, the dragon appears from behind the trees threatening to kill the princess. I remember last year how amazed I was that somehow they had managed to keep this dragon out of sight until the play began and the combination of the drumming and singing and then the appearance of the monster made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. And so Saint Michaelmas courageously slays the dragon and saves the princess. The end.

Following this, the whole school is broken up into teams of all ages and their own challenges begin. Last year each team had to build a giant dragon in the sand and the team who finished and lit a candle in its mouth won that challenge. This year the most amazing challenge was where the each team had to dig a giant trench and bury each other up to their shoulders. They had to be sitting cross legged with their arms by their sides and the supervising adult had to bury the last child once everyone was in the whole! Hmmm, not something I would suggest normally but the determination and team work that these kids demonstrated was amazing. Once the winning team was announced, everyone jumped out and ran into the ocean for the next challenge which was swimming around a kayak. At one point I looked out toward the ocean and saw this little blond girl swimming for her life way out in the ocean, then I realized it was Ailee the Brave!

The festival ended at 12 midday so it was nice to go home for an afternoon by the pool. In the end everyone except Phemie had a big afternoon nap. Finding one's inner strength can be exhausting!