Saturday, June 28, 2008

Bubbles and Fancy Hair

It's been a full weekend already for Ella, and it's not even Sunday yet (well, in 20 minutes it will be). After finishing the patio of Thursday, we enjoyed a great bubble blowing session together. She is really into this activity right now, begging to do it first thing in the morning, and again throughout the day, anytime we happen to pass by the bubbles in the mudroom (i.e. many times each day). She has gotten quite skilled at it, and has recently mastered the art of catching the bubbles she blew on the wand. Then, she will ask ME to blow bubbles, and she "catches" them, or pops them, depending on your perspective.

On Friday night, 2 and 1/2 White Guys, a ska band from Utah, who are friends with our neighbors, came to play their annual Petrolia gig at the Mattole Valley Community Center. While we were getting ready, Drew asked Ella if she wanted some "fancy hair"? She said, "La" (which means yes). So he coated her lovely locks with some Aubrey's Organics hair gel, kind of making a mohawk. She loved it. (It later mellowed into a cool side wave). Then he asked her what she wanted to wear with her fancy hair. She said, "Red." And she chose her pink tie-dyed ruffle skirt to wear to the show.

She was very excited about the "oomic" that we were going to go see, and the dancing. Once the show started, she kept going until 11 PM, appropriately clapping just before the end of each song, and dancing and galloping her little heart out to the ska groove during each tune. We and our friends were all in awe!

After sleeping in this morning, we spent the day preparing for our Cancerian birthday celebration, honoring Drew, Blase, Bird, and Cassie's birthdays, which all transpired this week. It was the inaugural party for our patio, and a good time was had by all: we BBQ'd some Alaskan coho salmon, some screaming pesto hamburgers, steaks, everyone brought side dishes, and I made yet another cake, this time chocolate with a vanilla cream cheese frosting with blueberries on top. I decorated it with flowers from Deva's garden, and it was very very lovely.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Ferro-Cement, Part 2

We had a big day on our ferro-cement project yesterday, nearly finishing all the plaster. We would have kept going, but we ran out of cement! We did manage to finish the final coat on the part that faces the patio, and thus were able to move ahead to laying our concrete pavers! Oh what a charismatic task! We sort of leveled the area (not as much as we should, but hey), put down weed blocker fabric, and then the pavers, and then filled the cracks with washed sand. Finally, we put gravel around the slightly irregular edges. By the mid afternoon, we had a patio! We even began backfilling some areas with dirt. It feels so nice to move forward with projects and move them toward completion. We wasted no time in moving the BBQ and some chairs into the area to enjoy it!

The wind finally shifted last evening, and now we are suffering from dramatic smoky haze from the recent wildfires all over northern California. The closest one is in Shelter Cove, called the Paradise Fire, about 25 miles south. I can barely see Shenanigan Ridge today, which is only about 2 miles away, as the crow flies. Now that the north wind stopped, I kind of wish it would start again! Geez, never happy!

This morning, Ella and I went to pick up our CSA share in the bike and bike trailer combo. We stopped to do some swinging on the way at the Mattole Elementary playground, and then collected our veggies for the week: fresh carrots, snow peas, lettuce, onions, kale, beets, and broccoli. Ella and I were so hungry, we sat right down and ate our whole bag of peas right there! We are sharing our box halfsies with another family since we have a garden with all the same stuff. I passed on the beets today, because I have a lot ready in our own garden. When we got home, I harvested seven of them, so that I could make a Lillie family favorite, pickled beets. YUM!

Pickled Beets

1 bunch beets
4-6 cloves garlic, halved
Dill, or thyme, or whatever herbs you like
2 tbsp olive oil
Apple cider vinegar (we have homemade from last year!)
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice and steam your beets. Don't forget to use your greens for dinner that night!
Pack them into a quart sized mason jar, add a few tbsp. olive oil, several cloves of garlic, some herbs, and fill the rest of the way with apple cider vinegar.
Keeps in the fridge for a remarkably long time!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Today was a push on our latest, non-house, non-garden homestead project, our ferro-cement retaining walls and raised beds that frame in an outdoor patio. We somehow thought it was a good idea to begin this project a month before we started the foundation. For all the poor timing, we are really excited about it, and know that it will improve our quality of life dramatically once it's done ( which is looking closer and closer by the minute!)

Ferro-cement is a method of building any old shape by using rebar with expanded metal lathe over it, and then plastering it with cement mixed with sand. When coated twice, it is remarkably strong. We were excited about it because the materials aren't that much money compared with using something like pressure treated wood, which is toxic anyway. We wanted to use the beds to grow edible plants, so pressure treated was out.

The floor of the patio will be square concrete pavers laid down over weed blocking fabric. The bottom of the beds has gopher proof wire connected around the edges, so the beds will be gopher-proof space for growing things that they like, such as carrots, beets, garlic and onions. After losing our whole winter garden to gophers last year, this is no small luxury!

Here's a picture of us excavating the site back in late April...note the green grass. Times have changed!

Here's a photo of the first wall being plastered.

Happy Birthday, Drew

Drew celebrated his 35th birthday yesterday, June 24th. For Drew, this means finishing work an hour early, and taking a mini nap on the couch while I was cooking dinner. Ella was really cute, she was trying to get him to play, and I gently tried to encourage her to let him sleep.

I managed to make an almost all local food dinner: short ribs that were raised just a few miles away, potatoes that were a gift from a neighbor who grew them himself, broccoli and kale from our own garden, with just one zucchini from the big grocery store. And then there was the blueberry cheesecake I mentioned in my previous post. Oh boy, as you can see in the photo above, it was not only beautiful, but delicious. Poor us...Ella was SO excited about a "happy birthday cake", and "mama, see happy birthday cannels (candles)". She helped Drew blow them out.

Birthdays are always a time in our family to contemplate why we are grateful that the birthday guy or gal was born. Well, Drew has far exceeded my expectations of devotion to our family dreams. If one had any doubt about where he was focused, one would simply need to observe him in the days leading up to our pour last week to see his whole heart and soul pouring into the project. He gets like that about all his projects. He takes them seriously, takes them to heart, and I know that he is working really hard to manifest what we all need and want: a solid house that is beautiful and functional, and a representation of our best thinking and design. And being as humble as he is, he has a hard time reading my thoughts here, but here's to you Drew, thanks for being born, and being so committed to our little family. I'm blessed to share yet another revolution around the sun with you.

Drew's birthday is also the anniversary of the day that Drew asked me to marry him, while on a sunset walk at the mouth of our beloved Mattole River. That makes it six years since we decided to commit our lives to each other. What another wonderful marker of time...

We will be hosting a birthday party this coming Saturday so that Drew can celebrate for real, with friends, food, drink, and of course, more cake.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Yurt Living

I thought I'd post something about what it's like to live in our little round house.

This 24-foot diameter Pacific Yurts tent is a wonderful, though sometimes loathesome, experience. I mean, most of the time it's great. It has a lot of light, since we oriented it with the bulk of the windows facing south, and the skylight lets in a column of warmth and brightness into the interior. We are cozy burning a fire in the woodstove on all but the coldest of winter nights and days. It has a light, airy feeling, with it's 11-foot ceiling (at the peak), and the functional kitchen is a pleasure to cook in. We are never far away from each other (which can be both a blessing and a curse), and in general, we have finally arrived at a point where the things we need are here and have a place, while things we don't need aren't here. We often refer to it as kind of like living on a boat. It IS small, about 450 square feet, so placement and organization counts.

It is also a great treat to hear foxes barking while lying in bed at night, or listening to the great horned owls, the coyotes yipping and barking to each other, echoing through the East Mill Creek canyon, or waiting for the dawn chorus to start on the mornings when I wake up for whatever reason, before the sun is up. The membrane between the inside and outer world is very thin, and the yurt almost amplifies outdoor sounds. I feel very connected to what happens outside, even while cozy in my bed.

But then, there is the WIND. And I don't mean light breezes, I mean serious, gusty, probably 30-50 mph WIIIINND, howling and whistling through the cracks and crevices of our very secure tent. We DO live in a tent, you see, and wind while in the tent is, well, LOUD. Wind here is a seasonal thing, occurring in the spring and summertime, it seems when the Pacific high pressure and interior low pressure dichotomy sets up. When it's happening, as it is at this moment, it is downright unpleasant to be outdoors. Yet it is difficult to be indoors, listening to the flapping and slamming of gusts into our fabric walls. Sleeping is difficult, for while it sometimes calms down at night, other times it doesn't. Sometimes, it blows consistently, day and night, for several days at a time!

The same holds true with winter winds, but at least these are less frequent, and predictable as to when they will stop. The dramatic, several-inch-an-hour rainstorms are equally difficult to sleep through, let alone relax through. Here is a video of what it sounds like in the midst of a big storm.

For all these reasons, we are pushing to try and get this house built sooner rather than later. Therefore, we are building a fort of a house, that wind will never touch. On the FasWall company's website, they have a testimonial letter from a customer in Lousiana, who weathered Hurricane Katrina in a FasWall house. They said they were surprised how much damage there was after the storm, cuz from inside the house, it didn't seem all that bad. Well, sign me UP! We are readY!

The other thing about the wind is that we are serious about getting a wind generator to make a lot more electricity. At least then we could really appreciate the wind, and maybe even have enough juice to power an electric car, like the ZENN.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Oh yes, I look forward to it every year, the U-Pick Blueberry Farm in Honeydew (upriver a ways) has opened for the season, Saturdays, all day. Drew and Ella and I were the first customers of the year! It was a hot, overcast day after nighttime lightening storms, and we arrived with a large pot and little yogurt containers with strings for picking. And pick we did, 12 pounds of the lovely blue globes, while eating probably 2 more on the side while we worked. Ella enjoyed the experience, and as in the children's story Blueberries for Sal, hardly any berries made it to her basket, while most made it to her mouth.

Blueberry picking at this time of year has become a tradition in our little family, as Drew is particularly fond of the berries, and his birthday is always right around when the farm opens. This year, I am planning a blueberry cheesecake for his eating pleasure on his special day. If we're lucky, he'll share some with us. Blueberries also always make me think of my grandfather, Ed Kachik, who passed away this past January 7th. He LOVED blueberries, and each year, I imagine sharing some with him while I pick.

Besides the cake, I will make a double batch of blueberry jam to put up, we froze some for smothering bowls of vanilla ice cream, and set aside still some more for fresh eating and smoothies. I hope we'll go pick more on another Saturday to increase our freezer stash.

To celebrate the solstice, the longest day of the year, we gathered with friends at the Mattole Valley Community Center for the first ever Solstice Celebration, to raise funds for the Center itself. There was a dance performance, market, puppet show, shish-ke-bob dinner, silent and live auctions, live music, and just general merry-making. It was a really fun time. We rode down there on our bikes, with Ella in the little trailer.

This morning, I finally planted our black beans, with seed I grew last year. I will cross my fingers for a huge harvest. I also began dreaming about our winter garden, and realized that it IS time to start thinking about it, and to place a seed order. I hope that in the not too distant future, we will be saving our own, but for now, a few favorite seed companies get my business and help us grow what we eat.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hailstorms & Gardens

Here's an entry for the garden geeks...

Well, our garden didn't suffer, but imagine my surprise when I heard a loud "THOCK....THOCKTHOCK....THOCK.....THOCKTHOCKTHOCK" on the roof of the yurt this afternoon!? Hail is a rare occurrence here, especially in the summertime. I was eyeballing the thunderhead-looking clouds today wondering if we'd get a little precip. This year is the driest ever on record for this part of summer. I am hoping for the unusual, but not unheard of deluge at the end of June.

I've been meaning to write a little about our garden, and my session with my garden journal re-inspired me last night. My garden is ROCKING! In the last few days, we've eaten snow peas, lettuce, mustard greens, beets, kale, broccoli, and radishes. I'm just so pleased with how it's going. Tonight for dinner, we had barley risotto (from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone) with barley grown in Arcata, beets and beet greens, peas, and broccoli all from our garden. It was delicious!

This year, I decided to focus on growing a lot of plants that I can preserve. In addition to what I listed above, we're growing tomatoes for sauce, salsa, and fresh eating, a lot of corn for freezing and fresh eating, peppers for freezing, salsa, and fresh eating, winter squash, summer squash, herbs, eggplant (baba ganoush, anyone?), tomatillos for salsa, basil for pesto, and a rotating cast of brassicas, which can grow all year round: broccoli, cabbage, tree collards, and I will plant more brussels sprouts. I'm hoping, too, that when our raised beds are finished, we will grow all the gopher-risky crops, like garlic, carrots, and potatoes, not to mention the long anticipated asparagus, which can't be harvested for three years after planting.

If you're wondering about our layout, our main strategy in the garden is wind protection. We get STRONG north winds regularly in the summer anytime there is a high pressure center out in the Pacific and a low pressure either at the Central Coast of California or in the Great Basin. I'm not talking about it being a little breezy, I'm talking about somewhere over the rainbow wind, where large objects get moved overnight. (Honey, where did the wheelbarrow end up?) So I'm growing corn in the north, with shorter things in front, then tomatoes on trellis (we'll see if this works), behind all the warm weather goodies (squash, cukes, basil, eggplants, etc). We found last summer that even a 24 inch tall "windbreak" made a huge difference for the bed immediately downwind.

In any event, it feels really good to be growing SO much food. Tonight after dinner, Ella helped me plant the pole beans among the corn, and the last thing I have to plant are the black beans. Then that's it until rotation plantings of brassicas, beets, and lettuce, and maybe even wheat, for the winter garden.

Wildcrafting with Ella

We've been blessed with some really nice, warm summer-like weather at last this week. While passing through on our driveway yesterday afternoon, Drew noticed the wild blackberries (Rubus ursinus) had ripe fruit on them! So this morning, I thought Ella might want to help me pick some yummy wild treats. After sunscreening up, putting our shoes on the wrong feet intentionally, and finding our berry-picking basket, we set off down the road.

Our first stop was for "sides in da gass, mama" (sides is what Ella calls nursing), so we sat, and I found us in a patch of wild oats (Avena sativa). Call it obsessive, but I like picking apart the ripe seed pods to extract a very sweet, tiny oat groat. Fresh with it's own oat milk, they are delicious. I carefully dissected one for Ella, who, once she finished eating it, said "mooore". So we ate wild oats for a while, and harvested some in the basket to take home.

Finally, I reminded my small companion that we were on our way to find blackberries, so on we walked, finding deer tracks in the dusty dirt of the the driveway. At last we arrived at the patch, and there were a surprising number of ripe berries. Wild blackberry is rather fickle, seeming to require specific conditions for fruit that often are not satisfied in most of the places the plants grow. The berries are small and tart compared to the Himalaya Blackberry, but their flavor has its own advantages, and is worth seeking out. We carefully extracted about a cup of berries from thorns and poison oak, snacking and putting aside as we went.

We walked along the creek at the bottom of the hill, and had a detour at the gravel pile by the old, haunted, yellow ranch house. Ella picked out some favorites and added them to our basket. At last, we headed home across the pasture. Near some of the old, old oak trees, we found a half of a turkey egg shell. I hope that it represents a hatched turkey, but it could be the spoils of a wayward raven. Another 50 yards farther brought us to the native hazelnut (Coryulus cornuta) tree, which is also fruiting right now. Small nuts in pairs with red, rough paper covering are sparse, but yummy. I suspect that with a bit more management with fire or coppicing they would produce far more nuts each year. For now, they are a rare and yummy treat with unique flavor.

At last we complete our walk, and arrive home with our spoils. We eat, share with daddy, and enjoy. What a lovely summer morning. On days like these, I think to myself that we will all be just fine, peak oil or not...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pour Day!

As my friend Emily would say, "Nous l'avons fait!" We did it! Here's the scoop...

Drew couldn't sleep and got up at 4 AM to keep working on unfinished details. His left-hand-man, Michael, came over to start work at 5 AM. No rest for the weary! Around 8 AM, a whole bunch of other blessed friends and neighbors showed up, one of whom was the country doctor bearing a large bowl of fresh-picked cherries from one of his trees. What sweetness, in the midst of focused panic.

At 8:30, I returned to the house to get my bag of collected trinkets to toss into the forms, and the phone rang...neighbor Cedar, who lives closer to the center of Petrolia, said, "I think I hear the first truck, I'm waiting to confirm...yup, it just passed us." "OK, I'll tell the crew." Ella and I went out, camera in hand, to wait for the truck and to document the proceedings. We settled ourselves for a moment atop the "mountains" (as Ella calls them) of dirt that came out of the house site.

As the first truck was visible above the tops of the scotch broom, I admit to an overwhelming excitement that nearly brought me to tears. It suddenly hit me what we were about to do: to literally set in stone this idea we've been dreaming about separately and together for at least the last 10 years. Here was the moment it was becoming reality! What a magical place to be! The stress and anticipation may have had something to do with that feeling too, hoping that everything went well, without any of the various problems that can compromise a pour: form blowouts, concrete setting too fast, inaccurate estimation on amount needed, etc. The pumper was having some difficulties getting his hose to work, which provided me a perfect opening in the show to run Ella off to her babysitter next door. She was feeling a little nervous about the "big tucks comin toDAY".

By the time I returned ten minutes later, the filling of the forms had begun, and I snapped some photos, and then Drew set me on the task of setting our rebar uprights into our stem wall. Our house is going to be built out of insulated concrete forms called "FasWall", which are made of ground up wood chips and cement. The wood chips are a waste product from a lumber mill in Oregon. The blocks are like cinder blocks in concept, and require rebar reinforcement. These uprights will tie to longer pieces, which will run vertically through the entire height of the finished walls.

As the form was getting filled, a crew worked behind, screeding, or leveling off the top of the form. They had to move rather quickly, as the concrete was beginning to set up. It was a delicate balance between working fast enough, minimizing waste, and keeping up with the tamping and knocking (to prevent voids in the finished pour).

Just as we finished the first truck, the second truck arrived, and we repeated the whole process over again, although by now the crew had reached a rhythmic harmony. We were in the groove, each doing what needed to be done, somehow getting it all done. Another neighbor showed up with shovel in hand (thank you!) just to help out. Cedar bent rebar pieces which will attach to the second level slab from the middle retaining wall, all while watching his little baby, Arlo. Here they are in the shadow of the concrete mixer truck and the pumper, and that's them below, helping move the VERY heavy concrete hose (with Arlo asleep in a backpack).

Once again, just as we finished with the second truck, the third arrived. As we were reaching the end, and all the forms were nearly full, we got the report that there was approximately one yard left in the truck, for which our neighbor had a back up form planned out. Drew had overestimated his numbers by one yard, so this means his calculations were RIGHT on, a relief to find out! And just as the pumper filled the last bit of trench, and had switched the machine over to clean out mode, it stopped working. We marveled for a moment at what kind of trouble we'd have been in if it had happened a few moments, let alone half an hour earlier. Thank you universe for your support...

At this point, most of the crew vaporized and we were all left with spinning heads. We had some drinks, and ate some cherries, made some lunch. Drew rushed off next door to pay the concrete company, and then began the project of taking it all apart. This entails a lot of nail pulling. I'm not sure that we will finish pulling the forms today, but I expect by the end of tomorrow they will all be off. Our dear friend Kai showed up yesterday after two years traveling, and has been immediately put to work (well, we let him eat lunch first).

A HUUUGE thank you to our wonderful community of friends and family who have supported us through this really busy month, and the wild and crazy pour day. Hats off to you, you helped us begin our house, with love.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ella Likes to Party

It's time for the first Ella post...

My little daughter has become a talking machine. Whatever it is we are doing, there is a running commentary, the practice of descriptive verbal prose. "Dis bunny ike sides" (This bunny likes sides), or "Mama, I...I...I...wan sumpin ta eat" (Mama, I want something to eat). My two favorite little expressions right now are "oomick" which translates to "music", and "la" which means "yeah".

Mama: "Ella, do you want to listen to some music?"
Ella: "Laaa, do".

Last night, we went to the 70th birthday party of one of our revered community elders. His wife and their friends put on a stunning, full service party for 50. Now, usually, parties of this size in Petrolia are potlucks, and you must factor in time to prepare a side dish before departing with all family members in tow. But when we were invited to this party, we were told not to bring anything. There was a huge table of appetizers: deviled eggs, celery and carrot sticks, bread, crackers and cheese, and some delectable olives. There was some soft cheese that melted like air on your tongue. You can see that Ella liked the eggs. Dinner was ribs or chicken, potato salad, and a green salad with an amazing berry vinaigrette. This dressing had strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries, and marjoram in it, not sure what else, but it was sweet and tasty over spinach and was topped with sliced almonds. Yummy! And did I mention the cakes?! There was a beautiful handmade lemon cake, two small dense fudgey chocolate cakes, and a rum cake. How could one choose between them? Ella wanted chocolate, and I chose lemon, and we shared some of both, while getting it all over our hands! The birthday boy was treated to a vaudeville skit by his long-time friends, a song performed by our local musical family (with guitar, piano, trumpet, fiddle, and three part harmony), and several poems and readings of prose. It was a lovely summer evening.

You can also see in the attached photo, that Ms. Ella likes to wear silly outfits. Here she is in grandma Barbara's swim cap, her sunglasses and bathing suit. Were we going to the river anytime soon? Not this day, but that didn't stop her from donning the gear and posing for some shots. She really knows how to have a good time.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Little About Where We Live

Along the length of California's coast, there is a small section, about a 25 mile stretch, that has defied human ambition and contains no roads. It is called the Lost Coast, the longest roadless stretch of coastline in the lower 48 states. It's probably a wise choice, given our soils' severe instability, coupled with our proximity to the Mendocino Triple Junction and our average of 81 inches of annual rainfall. Roads here have a tendency to slowly or rapidly slip away downhill, depending on the weather. We have big earthquakes, on average, every 10 years. Our last large one was in 1992, so we are all feeling a little bit wary lately, wondering when the next one will surprise us.

We are about 50 miles from the nearest city of appreciable size, and getting here requires a winding and twisting, car-sick-producing, over ridges, through mossy forests, across rivers and creeks, along spectacular ocean and mountain vistas driving experience. Once one arrives here, it seems like a good idea to stay for a while. (Some of our relatives have had the challenging experience of driving a motor home into our lovely valley...I hope they will try it again!)

Our little village is home to approximately 280 year-round residents, and we enjoy an anomolous community-based lifestyle and livelihood here. You may visit the country doctor in his weekly clinic by day, and play poker with him at night. You may hire your friend to dig a ditch with his backhoe, and in return, you might purchase his groceries or lawn mower parts the next time you travel the distance to town. You will definitely spend a lot of time trying to juggle a buzzing social calendar with your family, friends, and acquaintances, attempting to balance potlucks, board meetings, dinner dates, play dates, and ad hoc swimming hole visits, all while trying to maintain your garden, cook all your meals (there are no restaurants here), raise your family, and build your latest construction project. Mostly, you will not travel anywhere without seeing someone you know. 

For all the lack of anonymity and "free time", life in a place like this is endlessly rich with the people you know and our collective relationship with the land. After trying it on for a while, it becomes infathomable to imagine living any other way. I mean, what if I couldn't purchase a dozen eggs from our neighbor? Or study yoga with someone who grew up here, steeped in the river and the grass? Or speculate about whether or not the salmon will return in numbers great enough for harvest within my lifetime? What if I couldn't find a quarter beef from a local pasture, and had to *gasp* go to the regular old store. I certainly could do it, and I do on occasion, but it is a different kind of interaction with the world. Not necessarily better, but different. Me personally, I like what I have going here, and it feels alive with connection.

Foggy Morning

After a warm, warm day yesterday, I woke up this morning to see our landscape cloaked in heavy fog. It is downright drippy outside, and though the garden is soaking it up, I admit to feeling somewhat grumpy this morning. 

Drew will be working all day on our foundation, getting it ready for the pour 8:30 Monday morning, when three 10 cubic yard concrete trucks will arrive ready to unload. It's a big responsibility, and a wee bit stressful. Meanwhile, the basils and squashes, eggplants and tomatillos will have to wait to get in the ground until Drew is available to entertain Ella for a little while.

On a totally different note, as we were falling asleep last night, in the distance we heard a spotted owl, the endangered species that is altogether rare, especially so in our open, flat, pasture land. They nest and hunt in old growth forest, which aside from a few remnant old growth trees in our neighborhood, is about six miles away at the closest . Not sure where it was headed or what it was up to, but the call is unmistakable. Maybe it was a fledgling looking for a new home? Or an adult exploring some new territory. I have missed the spotted owl since we moved away from our previous residence, where one would come visit periodically, and play call and response.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Trying Something New

Well, I've seen enough cool blogs now to give it a go myself. Besides that, there are so many lovely people in my life who I would like to keep updated on our varied and full life. Life out here on the Lost Coast is so very different from life anywhere else, and the weekend visit or less Drew and I get with all of you is usually FAR insufficient to communicate about what is happening here, and just how much we've been up to.

For example, last weekend I went back to visit my high school, The Athenian School, a small college prep institution where teachers are a lot like friends. One of my old teachers asked, "What have you been up to?" "Well..." I stammered, "I'm mostly a mom right now." Well, this is true, stay-at-home-mom status is almost like two full time jobs, but it doesn't even begin to tell the story about what is happening on our 50 gorgeous acres that we're building from the ground up. Consider the following events during the last week alone:
  • A crew of eight people, who are attendees at a local residential dance workshop, taught by local Buto dance specialist Shinichi Lova-Koga, came and donated a morning of work in exchange for breakfast. These three hours turned the corner on our house foundation project, and blessed our garden with the final bed digging needed to provide food for our family. YUM!
  • We have closed in the forms for our perimeter foundation, the foundation which will support our passive solar dream home, which we have labored over for more than a month now. We have been actively designing this house for four months, let alone the several years it has been marinating in our hearts and minds.
  • We received our first CSA box from the Little Dipper Farm, which included cauliflower, lettuce, beets, kale, chard, peas, and artichokes.
  • We ate our first broccoli and beets of the season from our garden, and we continue to eat kale, lettuce, spicy greens, and radishes.
I mean, we've only planted our fruit orchard and berry patches this spring, as well as our windbreak, and begun a patio project with ferro-cement raised beds, too. There are always many projects, simultaneously, being mentally jockeyed and managed in our brains, trying to get the work equivalent of 5 people, out of the two of us, one of whom is handicapped with the toddler factor.

In any event, let this blog be a way to keep in touch with all of you, a way to see what we're doing, with a little explanation of why, and also so you can keep up with Ella, who would likely be 8 years old before we saw some of you.

Happy Reading...