We’re enjoying a cool weekend, finally! Unusually cool for August 1, in fact. Yesterday Sandy and I tackled cleaning up the stack of shrub and tree prunings from the last time it was cool enough to work in the yard. I began yanking out ornamental grapevine and honeysuckle and English ivy and wild yam vines that quickly overtake our property if I don’t cut them back severely each late winter and spring. Which, of course, neither of us were able to do this year, so it is a jungle. We filled all the trash cans that we could for city pickup, and only managed to do about 10% of the yard, at most.

At one time I would have picked through the vines for usable basketry material and made some random-weave baskets. This time I plucked out all the dead daylily stalks and leaves to use for papermaking.

Figs are ripe and the fig tree is so big that if I get serious about picking them I will need a 8-10 foot ladder. They are sooooo good. There’s nothing like eating a fresh fig right off the tree.

We have a lot of Sungold and volunteer cherry and grape tomatoes now. A few green Cherokee Purple tomatoes – I hope that I will get at least one tomato sandwich out of this year’s crop before the critters wipe them out again.

I soaked dark red kidney, navy, and black beans last night to make a chicken chili today. I picked a few peppers yesterday to spice them up. The jalapenos nearly got too big – one turned red already. I guess I’ll save the seeds from it.

I also had lots of Jacob’s Cattle beans. In the past, I’ve let them dry on the bush and used them for soup and planting the next year’s batch. I decided to pick all of them yesterday, snap the tender ones, and shell the ones that were too big for green beans. I added the few butterbeans that were ready. The field peas are working on a second crop.

Today I’ll carve out some art time. I’ll probably make a small batch of paper from some of the frozen pulp leftover from last weekend. I don’t want to overdo it. Yesterday I picked up a Quilting Arts and Handwoven magazine. I want to stitch and weave again so badly, and I know that is exactly what would set the whole healing process backward again. I did get a great idea – well, it’s not a new idea to me, just a reminder of a previous idea – I can weave strips of fabric to make bases for further artwork, as well as weave strips of handmade paper, like Susanne is doing now. She was making paper on her porch yesterday with horsetail. I want to make some horsetail paper too!

And I’m daydreaming constantly about the next art retreats that I’ll attend – Journalfest in late October is paid for, and I was able to use my “rewards” off my credit card to pay for my airfare for the first time! For my fiftieth birthday, I’m going to study with Albie Smith in the Santa Cruz mountains among the redwoods.

Life feels pretty good right now. I felt like Gene Kelly yesterday as we ran around doing our errands in the light rain. Part of the reason is that I’m ignoring the news.