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.