Sunday, December 28, 2014
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
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
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
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.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
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
comedy of potential,
last laugh of the husk
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Thursday, August 28, 2014
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
Monday, August 18, 2014
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
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
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
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
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Monday, May 19, 2014
Friday, May 16, 2014
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
Sunday, May 11, 2014
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
Friday, May 2, 2014
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
Saturday, April 26, 2014
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
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!
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Monday, March 31, 2014
Saturday, March 29, 2014
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
Saturday, March 22, 2014
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
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!
Monday, March 10, 2014
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
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
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
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Thursday, February 27, 2014
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.
Monday, February 24, 2014
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
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
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!