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Posted By Ondine Brooks Kuraoka

On this rainy day my older son, Roy, 9, baked his first cupcakes. Gathered round the kitchen table, Leo, 7, read his book, John read the paper and I read my magazine while remaining available for troubleshooting. Roy measured, mixed and decanted batter and frosting. We lit a fire, turned on baking tunes and all the while Buddy trolled for spats on the floor. 

So much coziness while the rain pelted down for hours. We ate the cupcakes, which Roy decorated with bits of black licorice and mini marshmallows layered into two kinds of handmade frosting, chocolate and vanilla. They were decadent-sweet for our family, but a fun treat. Even more satisfying was the vision of the five of us around the table enjoying the gift of Roy's inspired baking (Buddy stared up at us from his nearby bed, enthralled as he always is when we eat). Leo's cheeks dimpled with his happy cupcake smile and Roy was proud as he watched the chubby rounds disappear. We saved one to deliver to Grandpa Bill, which is what Roy and Leo are doing now.

I thought back on other favorite rainy days- including some of the wild rain adventures of my younger life- and today is one of the best. I adore this day!


 
Posted By Ondine Brooks Kuraoka

Can't resist sharing what an epic storm we had here in sunny San Diego yesterday.

Wind howled

Rain splashed

Trees fell

Shivery outside

Cozy inside

Twinkling lights

Fireside

Candles

Books

Hot cocoa

Whistling wind

Gusting rain

Cracking branches

Crashing cars

Stay here inside together

Be safe and warm

Bundle in blankets and sweaters

Eat cookies and cheese and crackers.

Have tea and cocoa and read a story.

Good night.

 

 


 
Posted By Ondine Brooks Kuraoka

Some days bring more surprises than I could imagine. Wednesday is Cleaning Day- So I was in scrub n’ shine mode in one of the bathrooms when I heard John through the wall- it sounded like he was having a conversation. With whom? I wasn’t sure, since we were alone in the house.

Turns out he was in the shower- and talking to a centipede. Without his glasses on it looked like a clump of hair and thought it was odd that it was moving around so he moved it with his foot- interesting choice.

So there we were, hunched over and peering at our many-legged visitor and wishing our boys were home to see it. We decided we needed to save it in a jar so they could see it when they came home. Getting it into the container was a howling carnival- I kept imagining it breaking free of capture at the last moment and running up our arms and into my ear. Or jumping on my face. And yes, I know that centipedes don’t jump and don’t want to live in my ear. But soon our visitor was safely secured in a big yogurt tub, which seemed easier to deal with than a jar.

The second surprise of the day was when I walking toward the school to get the kids, it was sunny out and raining. A celebratory day of centipedes and sunny rain. The other parents and I gave each other good silly grins. "It’s raining!" We all knew it but we had to declare it. I waved at people standing under overhangs who somehow might not realize- "Look- rain!" They nodded, "Yeah, wow!"

Here in our thirsty region rain is a big deal. It was just a smattering of rain but it felt so good to walk through it and with the sun it was beautiful. I looked for rainbows and didn’t see any. But I didn’t need any. This day was perfect just as it was.

Roy and Leo were thrilled with their centipede surprise. We took a photo and then released our temporary prisoner into the front yard wilds. Cleaning Day has its merits.


 
Posted By Ondine Brooks Kuraoka

John’s mom, Frances, was here over the weekend. As serendipity would have it, I had procured my mom’s sewing machine a few days before. So, being the sewing goddess that she is, Frances, aka Grammy, was delighted to help me conquer my fear of the quick-needled machine.

With her guidance, I cut off a pair of Leo’s favorite pants - the ones with the airplanes and parachutists-and hemmed them into shorts. And then we tag-teamed a really wide tank shirt of mine; she did one side and I did the other. And then I got really adventurous; I said, "This one has a grease stain on it; maybe I could applique something on it…"

She said, "Sure, why not?"

So I cut one of the orange airplanes and a parachutist from the cut-off material of Leo’s pants and appliqued it onto the shirt… with the sewing machine! Time was, I would get an idea like that and then earnestly hand-sew them on bit by bit over the next month. But not that day- woo hoo! Done in minutes! No wonder folks like this machine. I get it now.

But we didn’t stop there, no sir. Our duvet had a huge rip in the foot end. We’ve been thinking about buying a new one, waiting for a sale. But Sweet Li’l Sewing Machine to the rescue… I swear, it was all sewn up in a matter of 15 minutes, maximum.

By then all my nervousness was gone- I was getting a little charge out of the whole thing by then, even. The mystery was gone.

Roy was rather stunned to look up and see me there, foot pedal to the metal, needle whirring away. Then he said he wanted to try it. So he did, on a little scrap of fabric, he tried a few different stitches, ones I hadn’t tried yet. And no fear at all! He liked the whole machine aspect of it, the way the components all start moving and working together to get the stitches on the fabric.

Kudos to my friend Juliet and her friend Debbie, who sparked some inspiration for me with their talk of quilting. Juliet showed me one of her fantastic, cozy quilts- it had a wave motif- as she, Debbie and I waited for our kids at swim class. Juliet also sews glorious bags. Bags of dreams. Debbie also brought her darling hearts-in-envelopes quilt.

My goal now is to tackle the baby quilt I made for Roy- 8 years ago!! Sigh. It just needs to be quilted now. I say "just." Yeah, right. Well, after talking it over with Grammy, I’ve determined that it’s best just to finish it by hand, since the whole thing is hand-sewn so far, and it would just kind of feel off to finish it by machine. So I’m going to finish it with ties, and then hand-sew the binding… We’ll see.

I also wanted to mention, in light of maiden voyage, first-time attempts, hats off to Juliet for making her first batch of jam! Strawberry. She used self-sealing jars so she didn’t have to deal with wax.

So, I guess I need to stop for now. I’m going to try to update more frequently and less massively…I’ve been craving carrot raisin muffins.

Rock’n’roll daisies to you!

And more juice from the Juiceman Jr. (also from Jen’s garage sale :))