Sunday, December 28, 2014

Coast Goats!

I'm off my gotta-show-up-for-work job until January 2, so I had a chance to get away for an overnight in a peaceful spot. A friend I met through Whitney who works on a farm where he takes care of goats. I had been curious to meet and milk his critters, and I got the chance.

Slide Ranch is on the coast, surround by Mt. Tamalpais State Park. Seems like if the earth shook just right, the whole operation would slide into the ocean.

Luckily, the land there is so peaceful. Round twenty people keep the place running as a venue for outdoor education. Informative signs point out where bee hives are and why they're important. There's a yurt overlooking an endless pacific horizon, just asking for a class on native birds, and another gazebo to show how weaving works.

There is a garden that points out how important Comfrey is as an herb, as well as a beach made of plum sized stones worn by the salty waves.

After spending the night there, we met up with some other friends just a bit further up the coast. You remember that Splendor All Around show on the big blue school bus? Some of those musicians were practicing to record some songs.

I'm back home in the East Bay now, belly full and scheming about how to be productive in the next few restful days.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Winter's Closing In

It's all sorts of rain in California these days. After a heavy drought for the last several years, the ground is finally drinking deep. Feathery green wood sorrel has sprouted in every spare inch of exposed soil, and is flavoring my morning smoothies. The sun, still waning until the solstice on the 21st, is encouraging me to go to bed early, cook hearty meals, and generally follow my trend of self-care. I'm simmering soup broth, munching on not-from-a-can tuna salad (with fennel!), and working from home on a project for Far Leaves Tea. I'm picking up hours there in a wholesale sales position, and weaning myself off the Bakery job, fitting with my exceeding passion for tea, and diminishing interest in baked goods. All this rest has me feeling antsy at times, but I'm learning lessons about stillness and transmuting my boredom into productivity. I'm also more and more looking forward to the solstice and longer days.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Granite Gratitude & Turkey Scrambling

I was disappointed, albeit hypocritically, that my dad's side of the family didn't have a big Thanksgiving shin-dig this year. Having just visited, though, my guilt on the subject is assuaged. This year, I spent the holiday with my main-squeeze, Whitney, and his family. We drove together down to Santa Barbara, a 5.5 hour trip, where I got to hang out with his mom, dad, and two brothers. Arrived just in time to help make some food for the spread, had an easy-going and filling meal, and walked the beautiful beaches before sleeping off the drive. Next day, we went hiking in the Santa Barbara foothills. Whitney had told me his parents were avid and active outdoors-people, but I had not anticipated rock-scrambling along a couple ridges overlooking Santa Barbara and the Pacific beyond. We peaked out at Cathedral Peak, and scrambled down the other side of the ridge. I felt beat after that, so here's a pic of me on the way up.

It was a good thing that we had that warm up lap, cause the next day, we hit the road again for another long drive inland to Joshua Tree National Park, where we arrived around 3 am and flopped off the road a long enough hike not to be bugged by rangers in the morning. I woke up to sunrise over an alien landscape with crazy looking plants and boulders stacked as though by titans.

The next two days, we did a lot more rock scrambling, this time, on much more vertically inclined rocks. I was the wimpy kid next to Whitney and his brother leading the way. They had grown up rock climbing and seemed to have no fear. I followed them as far as I felt comfortable, and then even a little more, seriously testing my fear of heights.

I look wiley in the above picture, but this was just before I was holding on for my life in a probably-perfectly-safe, but still scary-as-shit climb with a dangerous-ish drop behind me. (Maybe I should have put on the climbing shoes attached to my belt loop?)

I did find plenty of time to sip on some delicious tea that Whitney's dad had recieved from students he taught in China, and kept the Thanksgiving theme going with heartily earned meals to recharge at the end of the day.

I can't emphasis enough how wonderful it was to just be in the desert there. The air was dry and cool, and the sun was encouraging in the winter. Saw a lot of extremely awesome rock climbing, and was thankful that I had great people to be patient with my beginner status on the way up. I'm encouraged by the feeling of tiredness I had after keeping moving all day for the last few days (excepting the longish travel days) and hope to keep up the exercise. Strengthening my shoulder joints by gently pursuing climbing activities may be a great way to rehabilitate my loose left shoulder, as well.

Flew home this afternoon and back to the grindstone tomorrow. For now, though, it's time for a nice long soak in the bath, and fantasize about the next trip into a national park out here; I'm falling in love with the West.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's Easy

I'm just back from a really swell trip to Yosemite with my friends. SK, Kevin and I got to hang out among granite cliffs and the trees that reach up and up toward their heights. We feared for bears because we ate so well. We walked well-worn paths, and took it easy.

The whole time I was there, I was thinking of how easy life can be. I had been stressed about going on vacation. I had felt a little frazzled after a trip to Michigan. I tarried in Chicago on the way back from Michigan and had a bit too much fun in that fair city. I needed some rest. And, maybe for the first time, I recognized that I needed to rest, and took the time to be nice to myself. I stretched, rubbed my bike-crash wounds with salve, and went to bed early. I felt right and sustained. And when I had whipped myself into unnecessary nerves about going out of town,

I caught myself; I had wonderful family behind me, and a family of friends ahead of me. I breathed, and I had a great time.

I'm happily stuck with this song in my head that I heard on that school bus. I didn't tell you that I went to another Splendor All Around show, and got cozy with strangers, again, in the name of folk music. For the second time, I heard this song (follow link, song starts 1 minute into the track) and it really affected me. The song is about loving yourself enough to not grow skinny in solitude, but to "swell in your loneliness; love yourself enough to rest."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Jetlagged Wanderings

Water gathers frozen on the sidewalk; but I'm warm.
Flowers flatter fifty thousand faces that ignore
the whispered secret
longings leaking from each bud
they drip with honey sweetness,
and colors burst from dirt and sun
and burly men show meekness,
and all the world will walk on by
and rushing fail to breathe
the blissful fleeting moment: . This . Be .

Saturday, September 13, 2014

All things new

After working at the bakery last night, i brought some cookies from work to one of my lovelies, and got swept up in some serendipitous plans. Whitney (lovely) was invited by an old roommate to go to an event at the Oakland museum. We quickly cooked some squash for dinner, and met up with them at his old house (which was remarkably near my house) then we went to the museum to find food trucks, salsa dancing, and the best, most creatively interactive museum I have ever been to. We only had an hour to explore, so I want to go back to the museum on the once-a-month free day.
I wrote this haiku about experiencing new things, and discovering new people:

Just then, a seed fell;
comedy of potential,
last laugh of the husk

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Clean Cut

I am freshly trimmed and enjoying my new job at the bakery. On lunch now on my second day. Looking a little sleepy as I adjust to a morning-heavy schedule. Here's a pic!

Thursday, August 28, 2014


I'm up late because I'm living well. Tonight I went to a folk concert for the second time. It was beautiful, intimate, and oh-so-East-Bay.

A few weeks ago, I started seeing this guy named Whitney. He's charming, creative, and admirable. He lives in a co-op in Berkeley and has amazing friends and roommates. One project he's been working on is to refurbish this big blue school bus, and turn it into an RV. He and his friends recently competed this task, and took the bus on the road, stopping to have pop-up concerts along the way. The tour is called Splendor All Around (click!), and I was fortunate enough to go to the very first show of the tour in Berkeley. It was at the house of the parents of the guy who bought the bus and worked so hard to transform it into a living/performance space. Among the beautiful landscaping and Berkeley hills, we piled into the bus for a tightly packed but soothing set of folk music.

Whitney and his friends went north to Washington, playing shows and living small. Then, they came back this week, a little early. Tonight, I got to go to one of the last shows on the tour. This time, it was with a band that they met on their tour, and was in the back yard of someone who clearly likes to garden. Instead of an all acoustic show, this one was with microphones. It was a very different experience, and I'm glad to have had both.

The music makes me miss home, and Asheville, where folk music seeps out of the corners of quiet old homes. It made me think of family, and my friends, and the kind of future that we can build together if we treat our friends like family. It was a really good night.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


My fritada this morning looks like Packman. :) it tastes good too.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Lucky Day

Couple nights ago, my coworkers invited me to go out dancing after work. I was a little apprehensive, but excited to connect with them. They are such good people and the prospect of being social was really encouraging. So after work, we booked it on our bikes to the BART Station to catch a light rail train to San Francisco. When we got to the station, Kevin had forgotten his bike lock, and SK's lock suddenly wouldn't work. We heard the last BART train of the night arrive and quickly locked up the bikes all with my lock, and got into the station just in time.

The Trader Joe's crew, Kevin, SK, and I, met up with Kevin's twin brother Peter. Peter's moving back to Boston so wanted to go out on the town to enjoy one of the last weekends he'll have here. We ducked into the first recommended bar called the Make Out Room. It was a small place, and felt really intimate. The DJ was mixing Salsa and Samba music with popular base-heavy stuff. Fun to dance to. I had a great time dancing with my coworkers and we even felt like staying out extra late, so we tried to find another bar after the Make Out Room closed. We called an Uber car, which is like a Taxi that you can order to your location with your smartphone. The Uber driver picked us up and we drove to this other club, but the scene looked sketchy so we decided to just head back to the East Bay to go to bed.

When the driver got us back to the BART station to pick up our bikes, we found that the cable holding our bikes together had been cut, and Kevin and SK's bikes had been stolen. Kevin was not phased at all, as he had just got a cheap bike from the internet, but SK was devastated. She bikes everywhere and has had that nice bike for so long. Lesson learned: Don't just lock your bike with a bike cable. You have to lock your frame with a U-Lock directly to the bike rack. Lucky for me, my frame was locked to the rack and my bike was still there. In the rush to get them home and for me to hop on my bike, I must have dropped my phone in the Uber car, with my credit card and ID inside.

I spent yesterday just processing. I figured there was nothing to do about my lost things until a weekday anyway. Went to work and came home, feeling happy that I didn't have a phone to look at every 10 seconds. I hopped online and logged into my Google account on my computer, and locked my phone remotely, and commanded it to display a message if anyone turned on the phone asking them to call my roommate and return my phone and I'd give them a $20 reward.

Then this morning, my roommate got a call! The Uber driver was cleaning out his car when he found my phone. He had remembered me, and was happy to meet me in the city this morning to give me the phone, with ID and CC! I gave him the $20 reward, though I didn't think he read the message. Nice guy. And I'm the the lucky guy!

But wait, there's more. I came home to find that I had a care package from my mom with Maple syrup, my long lost stuffed animal from childhood, and a couple shirts. AND, a card from my Grandparents (HI GUYS!) with pictures and loving words... Thank you to y'all, and thank the universe for being so nice to me and returning my things!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Bicycle Safety

My housemate, MaryAnn is a Bicycle Safety instructor. She keeps chiding me to wear a helmet when I bike. I figured out my finances for the month and I have enough for a couple purchases. So today, I got myself a nifty helmet. $60 worth of safety that should save me a brain injury. The tank top is new too, but that was just plain vanity.

This post is for you, mom. :D

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Back Pat

Today, I, again, made really awesome food. Vegetable stock from scratch, the majority of which turned into beef stock with stew meat. I made a rice pilaf that will be both an additative for the beef stew and for the meatloaf that I'll make tomorrow. I sauteed shitakes and onions that are going in the stew, too. For now, I'm eating pilaf, mushrooms, turnip greens from a couple days ago, and sauerkraut from Trader Joe's. Tonight I'm having sweet potato lentils that I made yesterday. I have a rotation of leftovers accumulating, but my hunger cannot be sated. I keep eating, so I keep cooking.

Wish I could post pictures, but my camera on my phone is taking crappy ones lately so I am unmotivated. Plus, I keep watching this show called Game of Thrones, so that will take up some time. Big beautiful delicious day and I still have a shift at work ahead of me. Bet I'll be whooped tonight, but a day well spent, I'd say. 'Specially cause earlier, I also cleaned the tub, dishes, and laundry, and went to the farmer's market. Life feels easy, suddenly, now that I'm caught up from moving. Wonder where I'll stick my nose next.


Sunday, July 6, 2014


My coworker Brian lent me this AWESOME book set by a chef in Denmark. The trilogy of books has a journal kept by the chef, a cookbook of his dishes (and also here), and a book of snapshots of his coworkers and collaborations. The book is inspiring me to experiment a lot with food.

Redzepi, the chef, spent a lot of his life foraging for food, experimenting with how to bring out the best in everything edible around him. His family and he survived this way. When he created his own restaurant, he focused intently on how his business worked with the people nearby. Not only his clientele were considered, though. His suppliers have become a big part of his success as well.

Redzepi and his chefs go to producers' farms and seek to get a grasp for the cultivation and potential of their ingredients. They source a great majority of their food within a short distance of their five-star Copenhagen eatery. And this jolt of insight makes it to the restaurant's patrons, when they are surprised by the abundance of variety and flavor greeting them at their doorsteps.

I've been thinking a lot about this new, old approach to food. Instead of trying so hard to wring each kernel of corn from a tired soil, maybe we work with the land's wild tendancies to let in more variety of species. Let the vegetables adapt to the local climate and express a uniquely-nearby flavor. And in this urban environment, how can I get creative with whatever is in season and makes it to me in the city? How can I piece together things I already have in my kitchen to make a dish both spectacular and economical.

Some recent failures: I made a broth out of vegetable leavings like onion skins and broccoli pieces. The (1) broth tasted a LOT like broccoli. Before realizing this, though, I (2) combined it with roasted squash to make a squash soup. I also added coconut milk for creaminess, which had the whole soup tasting bland, and unbalanced after all that. I saved the half gallon of extra broccoli broth, and the soup just in case I had another jolt of inspiration. It came yesterday.

Some recent Successes: yesterday I finally spiced and finished the (1) squash soup. I added lots of curry and some yogurt and some toasted pumpkin seed oil and it turned out really well. The curry was a bit strong, so I cut the soup by half with chicken broth and it was fantastic.

I have really gotten good at (2) green smoothies. my roommate has a great blender, so I've been making smoothies out of 2 apples, one banana, 2 handfulls of frozen berries, a handful of frozen something else (pineapple or mango), something creamy (yogurt, milk, or a handful of sprouted nuts like cashews), and juice or soy milk to liquify. I then add a generous fist of something leafy and green like spinach (frozen or fresh), kale (this one is sorta bitter), cilantro, or basil.

And this morning I figured out what to do with that broccoli broth: mixed it with miso and ground toasted sesame seeds and it made a (3) fantastic soup!

Today I am working on rice to add to the squash soup to make it stretch even further, and making plans to make this carrot soup recipe to keep me hydrated and nourished these next busy days.

But now, if you'll excuse me, I have to finish eating before work!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cooking Up Some California

Sorry again for going radio silent. So long since I last posted, and so much to say!

Gosh, so last time I think I had just landed and was getting my feet dug into the earth in the East Bay. Every day I am here I like it more, and feel more at home. The garden in the backyard is tended by my housemates and it is wild and overgrown and still productive. There is even a plum tree in back that is fruitful and produces the best plums I have ever tasted. I used backyard Meyer's Lemons today for a sprouted cashew hummus I made this morning. The beans and tomatoes and peppers and strawberries and purple potatoes need very little tending and are happy nonetheless. I feel connected with them.

About a week ago, my friend Jeff visited from Michigan. He has a friend in San Francisco who he stayed with, but we got plenty of time to catch up. We went to a little alley not far from my house, where there are cool little shops. One of them is an herbalist shop called Homestead Apothecary that sells bulk herbs for tea and other applications. and speaking of Applications, I am in communication with Nic the owner about working there :D They have stuff for making tinctures, salves, and decoctions, but plenty of already-made stuff. I bought beeswax candles and nettle tea. Another shop that I loved was Crimson Horticultural Rarities. They sell air plants, little blown glass "bottles" for mini-terrariums, specialty gardening tools, and other gift-y plant-y stuff. I applied there too, and they said that they have a landscaping  branch that I would be useful in.

Last week, also, I started working with my friend Oliver, who is a personal chef. He pays well, and I get to learn the tricks of a smooth in-home kitchen production for the dinner parties we feed. There's so much I can do to make money in a big urban environment like this, I have to be judicious about the gigs I take on, weighing if they are worth my time. This gig is definitely always worth my time!

Just a couple days ago, I got two big packages just as I was heading to work. I had to wait until afterwards to open them, and found that they contained the long anticipated computer from Chris. Chris is a video game designer, and he recently got a new computer, and graciously said he'd send me his old one. I am so happy to be back in the world of easy internet and an adequate computer to blog, and surf the web. I can even play video games with my friends that I live far away from.

Throughout it all, I have been enjoying getting reacquainted with my violin, which I bought back from my roommate. Playing old songs that I can remember, and plotting what songs to learn next. Now that I have a computer, I can learn from YouTube videos about new songs, and tecniques. I can also learn all sorts of other useful skills like cutting my own hair and brush up on how to clean a gun. For now, though, I've got to go take care of my buddy who is oh-so-sick with strep!

Sunday, May 25, 2014


This wall of jasmine greets me on my way home from work. It takes me about 25 minutes to get to and from work on foot and it is a pleasant trek. This corner makes it even more so.

Monday, May 19, 2014

That's Everything

I'm all packed up. My ride gets here in a half hour. My whole life fits in five bags.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Doing is the New Talking

My time at Salt Hollow is drawing to a close, and things are really coming into perspective. I have responsibilities still, sure. I've got a list that seems daunting, and a couple of big uncertainties. But the finality of these responsibilities is giving me a lot to think about. Maybe this is the stage that the real learning happens: at the end. Or at least it is the time that you can sort your thoughts and breathe with a new present-mindedness.

Organizing those daily tasks yesterday gave me some insight, as well. It's a lot to do for one person, but having it all there in one place makes it seem like not such an all-consuming livelihood. When I spend time sinking my feet into the dirt, all those tasks become really apparent. They're just stuff that needs doing. And in the middle of the garden, feet in the dirt, it makes you care even deeper than your feet can sink in. I want to feed those goats, because it makes them happy. I want to search out the eggs, because they nourish me. I want to water the plants, because they bring an invaluable vibrance to the place I've been enjoying. This place is such a gem; in the middle of what could be a desert, we actively make an oasis that not only sustains, but heals.

Yesterday alone, someone came here to have their jaw reset, having been kicked in the face by a horse or somesuch. People come here when they need respite from their jobs. The greens I harvested the past couple days are doing their magic in the diets of at least three other households this week. Depleting as it may be to work a shovel in the hot sun, there is water here. That's a miracle in itself.

I'm reflecting a lot, because tonight, I'll start packing up my stuff. I'm hoping that I can fit it all back into the bags I took here. I haven't accumulated much more than what I brought, but there's a lot from here that I hope to take with me. Sauerkraut, and other ferments, bones for making broth, soap we made ourselves. And a lot of stuff that is much easier to carry: the how to in making the things above, and the confidence to just do it.

Before I left Grand Rapids, I ran into something that hung on a friend's wall. It said, "Doing is the New Talking." It's my new motto. When I think about it, just coming up with the words is tough. But I suppose that taking things one day at a time makes it easier. A lifetime of fixing shit you didn't break is too much to consider. But feeding a goat? That's easy. Especially when you can do it together.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My Day-to-Day

I'm writing up something for the next WWOOFer at Salt Hollow, and thought you all might like to know what I do every day here. I'll just paste in what I wrote to the next WWOFer.

The day-to-day WWOOFing responsibilities at Salt Hollow are mostly in the morning and evening. They consist of watering, milking/feeding, and dog-walking. Other tasks are outlined in the WWOOF book, and as needed, projects and other work will come from Jini/Peter.


Feed Lucy (dog) in the morning. She gets a half a scoop of kibble, and gravy if there is something meat-based in the fridge that needs to be used up.

Watering should happen around or before 8 am every day. This climate is much hotter than I am accustomed to, and the sun starts early. If you leave water on the leaves of the plants when it is hot, the leaves are likely to be sunburned! Watering when the soil is warmed will cause much of the water to be lost to evaporation. It  is important to water early.

Water all vegetable beds in the upper and lower garden. Water the Wooly Mammoths (vertical gardens by the River Birch tree/beehives. Water the plants in the Nursery, in the greenhouse, and the pots outside the greenhouse and firepit seating. Often it is warm enough by now to open the greenhouse so it doesn’t get too hot. Open the window on the far side for some ventilation. Until drip irrigation is installed in the planters in front of the Dog Room, you must also water these plants. Water the plants in the front of the house in planter pots, and the roses in front of the North Quarters. Keep a careful eye out for struggling plants, and give them some extra water as needed.

Milking and feeding should be done by 9 am. Ask for a milking demonstration so you know what you will need to do. The compost goes out in the morning sometime to the chickens so now’s a good time to bring it. While you are at the milking station, feed the goats, chickens, and cats. Check the sink in the goat pen to ensure that it is full every morning. Keep current with Jini on how much to feed the goats and chickens. Currently, we feed the goats one flake of alfalfa and one flake of grass hay morning and night along with a half a scoop of goat feed. Milk before you feed the goats to ensure that the milking goats are hungry enough to keep eating while you milk them. The chickens get a scoop of feed, or down to a half a scoop if they have plenty of compost to eat. If the chickens leave a bunch of feed on the ground, you can decrease slightly so it doesn’t go to waste. The cats get a full bowl morning and night. Once you return and filter the milk, feed the birds in the aviary, the chicks in the chicken tractor, and refill the birdfeeders as needed. Make sure everybody has plenty of water, and that the aviary has fresh water daily.


Lucy prefers to be walked twice a day. Afternoon is a great time to accomplish at least one of these. She likes to walk in the vineyard across the street, and I let her off her leash. She returns to you if you keep on calling her periodically, but she will not come to you if she has found something to chase. Be patient with her and she comes back to you. Leash her before crossing the street back to the house. Walk her on the leash anywhere else if you like. It’s a good excuse to do some exploring. The Black Bart Trail loop is a good 5 mile jaunt if you are up for a haul. Beautiful too.

In the evening, water sometime around or after 7:00. By then the sun has cooled down and it’s time to water and close the greenhouse. Water the same spots as in the morning. Milk the goats and feed by 9 pm. Check for eggs in the evening in both the roosting rooms off the chicken coop. Feed Lucy before dinner.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Diet Evangelism

Sometimes when I feel cruddy, I go into overhaul and eat a ton of leafy greens. If I keep up a diet low in carbs, especially sugar, my mood, digestion, complexion and clarity of mind improve dramatically. I struggle with recurrent infections, dry skin, and allergies that clear up readily if I just eat right. I used to think that this included a diet free of meat, as well, but I now know that meat is an important part of the diet that is right for my body. On the other hand, simple carbs like white rice, bread, yeasts, alcohol, and especially sugar are the opposite of healthy for me.

I go to simple  carbs for their easy energy. But my goal is to take care of my body ahead of time, so I don't have to rely on junk food to sustain my activities. I had a full day today that was powered mostly by steamed brassicas (kale, collards, mustard, broccoli leaves) with a sauce made from blended sunflower seeds. It was like cheesy hearty healthy. I also had stewed meat and squash, and artichokes. I feel great. Clear-headed, hopeful, and upbeat. :]

Sunday, May 4, 2014


Got the job at trader Joe's! I start on the 23rd. Things are lining up :)

Friday, May 2, 2014


I had some great success when I was in the East Bay. I really hustled and found what I was looking for. I had four interviews, and two were at the Emeryville Trader Joe's. They are looking to hire about when I move, and I think the interviews went well. I also am in the process of applying at a great tea shop called Far Leaves, and an herb store called Lhasa Karnak. If neither of these dream jobs turn out, I may apply at Berkeley Bowl, a healthfood store in the East Bay.

I visited a couple apartments, too. I was looking for an apartment at which I was supposed to meet someone for an interview, and this lovely lady asked if I needed help. In the process of talking with her, I found that she also has a room to rent, and it is exactly my price point. It is close to Emeryville, has a peaceful garden in the backyard, and a wonderful roommate: she's a potter, massage therapist, bisexual, great listener, and lovely spirit. She's gonna accept my violin as my first month's rent, and may be starting school in the city which will have her staying there two days a week. I even met someone to give me a ride down to the East Bay on the 23rd, so that is my tentative move date!

And back to the day-to-day, we're prepping the outside garden beds by clearing, mowing, and tilling, I believe. Then, we'll plant bird-friendly food crops like amaranth and sorghum. Got some new plant starts to plant tomorrow, too. Plenty to do, so I'll leave this post at that.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

City Slicker

I am back in the city, and getting to business!I had two Trader Joe's interviews, and one was the second round. I visited an herbalist and a tea shop that I would love to work for, and will apply tonight and tomorrow for them. I had an apartment interview, and, in the process of finding that apartment, I ran into someone lovely who is looking to lease a room in her place for much cheaper. It is in a good location for me, too. I biked around ALL DAY, and so I am a bit sore. I meet with the herbalist, and the serendipitous renter tomorrow morning before heading back North with a ride share. Life is grand.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Calm Before the Storm

Tomorrow, I'm headed to the City. I have a ride down there and maybe back. I also have an interview at Trader Joe's. Securing work is the first step, and then I've got to find a place. I'm looking at moving between the 10th of May and the 20th. I'm bringing a stack of resumes and a go-getter's attitude to lock down employment.

My shoulder has been giving me real trouble lately, and it popped out again yesterday. I asked for help milking the goats today, and I'm refraining from sheep wrangling, despite the sheep sheering being today. A day of rest should do it some good, but I'm writing off doing any heavy lifting at a landscaping gig or somesuch. I have to wait for my health insurance to kick in before I can see a doctor about it, but maybe MediCal will cover rehab on a bum shoulder. At least I can talk to a doctor about it once they process my application.

Quiet day on the farm as everyone is off selling baked goods, feeding sheep wranglers, wrangling sheep, or selling plants. Today, I center myself for the big adventure coming up.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A New Phase

THe full moon eclipse last night was really beautiful. Obscured in clouds at its peak, but orange-ish afterward. Moon-gazed with the Salt Hollow folks, including Janet, who I am sad to say left this morning.

Today feels so new. I finished up a small book that my dad gave me about mindfulness, and some buddhist teachings. Checked off an impressive list. Sent applications to a new job (a new life). No strong leads yet, but the future is always unknown.

Scone and greens/eggs for breaky, turkey/nut burgers for lunch, lemon tarragon chicken soup for dinner. Breathing, breathing.

Ongoing project rendering beeswax from some old combs. It's an interesting process: styrofoam cooler, glass set on top to trap the heat. Inside, a pot with water at the bottom with cheesecloth rubber-banded on top. Set comb on top of the cloth, set the whole thing in the sun. The wax that collects on top of the water is remarkably pure.

I'm excited about goats and chickens tomorrow. The other WWOOFers will have left in a day or so, and I'll be back ot feeding the animals myself. I've missed their regular, simple company.

Walked around barefoot all day today. Been doing it a lot. It's helping my posture, and my lack of callouses.

I keep imagining my future in the city. Biking to work, sleeping on the floor til I can find the $ for a bed. It's about time I took a leap relying on just me to catch myself.

I'm applying at Google. Finishing up polishing my resume tonight. Then the cover letter. Wonder if HR will read the blog before considering me for interview.

The kitchen is back in action after having to replace the floor. Long process, bur surprisingly only a little inconvenient. Glad I can make more scones for the morning though. Night!

Found my Asheville hat

First place I want to travel once I get some cash? Asheville. Miss the heck out of Asheville.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wax poetic

Smore ukiaHaiku

Full again and drunk
deep from the lake that empties
precarious grape.

Rolling hills of grass
And salty, evening breeze;
the dew waters us.

The hills have voices
Rising gentle like the mist.
Can they quench the fires?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Found some more pics to share.

Here are some photos that I never posted but should definitely be on the blog. Went for a walk with the WWOOFers and dogs, and also a couple of jumping on the trampoline with Joel while he was here. Makes you feel like a kid!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

San Fran Recap, Update

Hello all. Sorry for the delay in posting.

Went to San Francisco with my buddy Joel. He came to visit me from Michigan, and I returned to SF with him to sightsee before he got back to MI. Joel, Ariana, and I walked and walked around the city. We walked the 7 miles through Golden Gate Park, and then up the western coast of the peninsula toward the bridge. We almost got there, but time was short, so we got back to the hostel. Joel and I had plans to go dancing or somesuch that night, but decided against it, after wandering around some 10 miles of the city. We got breakfast at that greasy spoon that I posted about previously.

Then I went to catch a bus back to Ukiah. I waited and waited, for 25-30 minutes, and then ducked into a coffee shop in order to make alternate plans. That's when I saw my bus drive by, some 10 minutes later. Being resilient, and having friends still in the city, I was not dismayed, though, and geared myself up for another day (and night) in the city. I walked through Chinatown, spent some serious time in the Castro, and went back to the hostel to meet up with Joel. Again, we planned on going out on the town, but in the end, watched High Maintenance, one of our favorite shows. I did catch the right bus home on Sunday morning, and was home by evening to get back to the daily grind.

Shortly thereafter, Janet, our new Irish friend and most recent WWOOFer arrived. She's delightful, eager to work, and has entertaining turns of phrase. In fact, I've got to get back to working with brian and her, so I'll cut this short.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Goats are my life.

Blackjack's first of apple blooms. Dogs rule my doings, too. Here's Lucy riding safe. And a picture of Applebloom from My Little Ponies cause that's where my mind went. I briefly felt a fatherly aspiration that Blackjack and Applebloom would someday meet in a cartoon world and end up living happily ever after.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Greasy breakfast in San Fran

Two whole days in San Francisco and there are weeks worth of things yet to see. My phone died on out 10 mile hike through the city, visiting parks and sightseeing. I can post pics once I retrieve them from my friends who did have functional cameras. For now, rest assured that there is simple, affordable breakfast tucked away for those willing to do a little wandering.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Montgomery Woods: "Even that dog looked high"

Wish my camera was better on my phone for moments like this. Joel came to visit me for a bit, and we decided to go on a day hike in Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve. These groves of redwoods are majestic, stretching hundreds of feet into the sky. The main trail skirts a swampy area where a little stream disappeared into the porous forest floor. Photos can't do justice to the experience of being in these woods. Standing next to trees this old and massive makes you feel small a similar way to looking at the night sky. Only, looking at the night sky is a lot like looking at a picture of the night sky, and being in that forest was so incredibly different from looking at pictures of the redwood forests.

Later, when we came home, I talked with our friend Brian about wanting to buy land and settle down somewhere. I had to confess that I was not hopeful for this area of Northern California. I worry that the place will be mostly desert in 20 years, and if I want to invest my energy in a stretch of land, I want it to have a water-secure future.

But who knows? Maybe we will get our act together and start caring about the environment. Maybe I should't be worried about climate change, and I should stick my head back in the sand. That said, though, a future without stands of old-growth forests like this is certainly a bleak one. Hope we can get off the path to wilderness destruction sooner rather than later!

Solar Living Institute

Saturday morning, we went over to the Solar Living Institute, and helped guide a group of students through the process of building a solar car from a kit, and got a tour of the place ourselves. Brian, the other intern here at Salt Hollow had been an intern at the Solar Living Institute just before coming here, so he helped the students learn a bit about natural building as well. It was great to get a primer on the kinds of building projects that we'll hopefully get a chance to do this summer. We have discussed building a wall and bench out of cob. Cob is a combination of clay, sand, and straw, and is a nice solid building material. We even got to see the shower house that they build a few years ago out of cob (see pictures). The one big drawback to cob is that you have to keep it out of the water, otherwise it can erode over time. Brian is really excited about hybrid adobe, which you apply like a skin on the cob structures, and makes them waterproof. (Hybrid adobe is a combination of cement and clay.)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Getting Active

Took the big dog for a 5 mile run today. Took a couple pics to share with you too!


Last few days have been busy tending to the animals while my human cohabitators took a little break in the woods. Forgot how much work they all are when you are not sharing chores! Everybody needs to be walked, fed, milked, scratched, and/or kept from killing each other. We had a good time, but I am happy to have some human company again. Bonus for the day is that I could sleep in a little bit on account of not working at the soup kitchen on the 2nd Monday of the month. I'm relaxing with the goats right now. These guys really know how to chill.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Haiku competition in Ukiah. Deadline on March 22!

A web connects them,
The pear and the olive trees.
I sway among friends.

Heavenly, the dew
droplets fading into fog.
Lights in the night sky;

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

"Precocious" Lactation and Salty, Foul Goat Milk

We only had one goat kid this year. But our other goat, Honeypot, started spontaneously lactating about the time Licorice had her kids. Honeypot had been dried off last winter, in hopes that she would get pregnant by the buck that was here for breeding. But even though she didn't get pregnant, she's lactating, so we are milking her. She doesn't produce more than a pint a day, and for the past week, we have only been milking her once daily. We're hoping that her milk improves over time, and with more milking. But I tasted her milk this morning, and am still finding it tastes salty, slightly foul, and super thick. And her udders don't show signs (swelling, abnormal heat, etc.) of mastitis.

I've done a little research about spontaneous lactation, and read somewhere online that it can be caused by pretty much anything that influences the doe's endocrine system: the presence of a buck, a false pregnancy, or, perhaps in this case, maybe, the pregnancy of a sister-doe?

Whatever the case, looks like from this thread that if a doe is lactating, and she doesn't have mastitis, it's safe to milk her. I'm also reading here that "it must be stressed that drying off the spontaneously lactating doe is not an easy task, and requires a management and treatment plan if to be successful." Lastly, this post on a homesteading forum said that it could be that we should milk three times a day and the taste issue may clear up. That said, though, the aforementioned post is referring to a goat that had not yet lactated before.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Haiku on a rainy day

Glass, still. A mirror
Jumps up with joy rejoining
a drop of itself.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Yesterday, we got out the door a little late to the sheep shearing. Actually, the sheep weren't sheared completely; they were just "Skirted," which just means that the dirty/wet wool from around their eyes and bums were sheared off. The shearer was cool too, and it was fun that the whole shearing family came. The oldest of the three girls was a whiz at herding the sheep into their holding pen. The sheep looked funny in their smocks, protecting the bulk of their wool from dirt. Once we got through the first 12 sheep, taking their jackets off their hind legs, skirting, and everyone bundled up again, we broke for lunch. Jean, our hostess, and owner of the two dozen sheep, had prepared quite a spread. She's an amazingly productive person for 99 years old. And she makes some award winning fiber out of those precious puffs of wool on her sheep.

For lunch we had good company, too. Matt, the shearer, Rebeccah, his partner, and their three girls, Jean, Jean's son and his wife, and three Salt Hollow WWOOFers. Matt and I talked sourdough and njira, a sourdough flatbread from Ethiopia made from Teff flour. I'm curious if the sourdough culture will work in Teff flour, too. Whatever the case, yesterday had two different loaves of GF sourdough, with positive results.

Somewhere in the middle of shearing the second dozen sheep, I got a call from a new friend, Jonah. Through my own miscommunication, he was at Salt Hollow, petting the goats, and waiting until we got done. When we got back, we all worked on Jini's stage effects for her Raging Grannies Singing Group performance coming up next week (more on this to follow).

Today, I've got another loaf of sourdough rising, and one on deck. I'm increasing the amount of Amaranth flour in the mix with each loaf.
Already today, too, we had our goats "debudded," a process when their horns are cauterized before they begin to grow through the skin. The process is painful to watch, but apparently it is necessary to avoid all sorts of mishaps with rowdy goats and pointy horns.
It's a rainy one here at Salt Hollow, so we'll see what we can get done this afternoon.
Oh, and a rainbow.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Circle of Life and Death

It's an odd feeling, being so involved with the life of the farm. I woke up this morning with alfalfa littering the floor of my room, a pile of dirty goat bedding, and a sneaking suspicion that a certain fuzzy black critter needed to be fed. Later, I had fed the rest of the family, tended to their whims, and connected with the other animals. A couple hours later, and we were skinning the baby goat that we lost, and scooping out her brains to tan her hide. Sounds gruesome, and in a way it is, but it gives me a sense of pride that we are using and celebrating all the parts of the system. I've got one hand nurturing life into a goat, and another holding the skinning knife. And I enjoy being so deep in this farm that I find myself fading into my environment. Closer and closer to hive-mind, working as a group. Deep and meaningful partnerships become the means to eat, the moments of heartbreak and celebration.

Much ado

Long day getting some work done. My day surrounded this baby goat, Blackjack, from beginning to end. I'm really bonding with this little guy. When he was newborn, we called him pranamayama because he didn't eat a lot and still seemed perky. Well, now he can't get enough milk. One more night indoors and he may be ready to live with mom again, though we will have to bottle feed him...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Found BlackJack cold and waning this morning. Milked Licorice for the first time to relieve some pressure, and Blackjack took it all by bottle. Interesting process, the milking: brushing, cleaning the teats, fending off unwieldy kicks at you and your milking bowl... Worth it, though to see blackjack bounce back like he has. I'm watching him tonight on account of I have the kid-friendliest room. I expect that there will be some midnight requests for food from this little tyke, so I had better hit the hay.


It's hard for me to think of myself as a creator. I'm often so caught up in just taking it all in, that I forget to be a part of the growth I see around me. In the past, creating, I have looked to words and even numbers to validate my work. But farming feels like creating as part of a big team. We are all working together to make something: me, the microbes, the animals, the other people, the elements. Together we cultivate a space that is simple and fruitful, a place that even bees and blackberries want to call home.

This place is so abundant. It even gave me some accidental art. I might have to tweak out over this hippy hunk of wood that looks like a lady from both sides. I found her while picking up prunings from last year.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Baby goats!

Woke yesterday morning to Michaela's exclamation: "Baby goats!" Licorice had four kids during the night and stood dumb, wondering what all the fuss was about. One little one, who we named BlackJack Pranayama, didn't look like he was gonna make it. He was pretty chilly, but when he got a good cuddle, he bloomed. Two other kids, girls, are growing strong. We named them Daphne Pangaea and Anise Loba. They both have their dad's brown patches. The fourth one flew under the radar until this afternoon when we found her in a sorry state. Couldn't figure out for sure, but it looked like she either had been stepped on or was seizing. We stopped the suffering she was in, and remembered the exchange that birth and death are part of. We will take Luna's black and white coat before we bury her tomorrow, to continue to honor her.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Catching up

My, have I been the recluse! Sorry for the absence.

Things really picked up once the final WWOOFer , Ariana, got here. She's from Vermont, and proud of it, too; she came baring a pint of maple syrup that we promptly powered through. So we're all settling into a schedule of chores, filling in gaps, and eliminating overlap. Each day now starts off between 8 and 8:30 for breakfast, cleanup, and then daily projects. Where I used to feed the animals first thing in the morning, the other WWOOFers have an easier time, seeing as their sleeping quarters are right by the barn.

Peter always has an ongoing list of stuff to do outside. Today, he mentioned that there is some wood that needs to turn into kindling. We discovered a trickle of ants in the kitchen so we are being proactive about that, too. Finished up the soap making project, too, and put everything back in its proper place. In the last week, we have taken down a pool, retrieved another truckload of sheep manure, layed gravel for a trailer/office, built a cob ramp to keep the goats in their sleeping quarters, mulched a path, and organized the potting/greenhouse area. We've had two bonfires, planted three beds, and are on to another four beds today.

Jini came home with her new dog, Ruby around the last time I posted a blog, and there has definitely been an upset in the canine apple cart. Lucy, the other pooch, thought she was queen of the castle, but Ruby, younger and about four times Lucy's size, has finally shown who is in charge. The dogs had a scuffle that Lucy is still recovering from. I'm just glad they figured out who was on top.

Valentines day found us hosting a little get together with music, guest, and love-laden foods. Two soups, vegan chocolate cheesecake, and BBQ ribs. Next day, we planted the starts for our garden that should get in the ground today.

Oh! I had my first visitor here, too. Ryan came up from Southern California to visit friends in the SF area, and made time to stop up here and check out my gig. He agrees that it is a good one, and I hope to see him and our mutual friend Chris up here around Mid-March. So much happening around here, that I wonder what the place will be like only a month from now.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

First Garden Day, Aquaponics, and Sourdough Success

Lots of fun work done today. Fixed up the potting shelter and moved some compost from our friend Jean's sheep. Spread on a few beds and double dug the compost in. Meanwhile, Michaela and Jini worked to process the Yucan roots into pickled versions of themselves, as well as packing some whole and dirty in a bucket with newspaper so they will keep while we take our time eating the pickled ones.
They also prepped the pumpkin for our vegan pumpkin chocolate pie for Valentines day. We're having quite the soiree tomorrow, and desert just may be the most important part.

Afterward, we zipped off to Ukiah High School to get a tour of their Aquaponics project. They have three rows of tanks, one big one on the bottom, and two staggered, smaller tanks suspended above that. Water flows constantly between the three levels. The fish live in the bottom, and provide most of the nutrients by eating the plant waste, and the plants use the nutrients from the water to grow amazing vegetables. The plants are susoended in a fliating foam with cocao mulch, and their roots soak up nutrients in the water they share with prawns in the upper tanks, and Steelhead or Bass in the lower tank. The solid waste settles in a catchment basin, and goes to the bio-digester, which catches the methane gas from the break-down. The gas powers a water heater that pumps warm water underneath the tanks to keep them warm in winter. Then, the digested sludge is finally fed to worms.

We could have been beat after a day like that, but we came home to delicious Gluten-free pasta, and my first crack at GF Sourdough. It was soo good. I missed real bread, but I think we made something that is close enough to actually call bread. I have another batch in the oven, and another one on the rise. Toast! How I've missed you!