22 Jun 2011, 10:05am
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the end of spring


matt in santa rosa.


kohlrabi <3s you.


grandmother eucalyptus, poison hemlock.


rhubarb.


cabbage.

21 Jun 2011, 11:41pm
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midsummer

today was the longest day of the year, midsummer, the summer solstice. this morning when i left my tent the sun had already spread across most of the garden.

we are hosting a permaculture design course right now; thirty-some students are camping in the meadow and hanging out in the yurt and occasionally getting a little raucous around the fire circle at night. last night one of the instructors, robyn francis, led us in a ceremony celebrating the shortest night of the year. we gathered plants and flowers to make garlands for our heads, sang songs, lit a fire, and stood around it sharing gifts.

i am thinking a lot about resiliency: our bodies, relationships, our confidence, human and non-human ecologies, and of course the seasons, the sun and the light: they all bounce back.

and also about humility, love, and compassion—the words we chose as a group to bring into the next turn of the seasons.

19 Jun 2011, 9:45pm
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minus tide

on thursday morning a bunch of us woke up at dawn to head down to the beach for the minus tide to do some tidepooling and a little seaweed snacking.


(nori!)


(large fish head skeleton. pretty freakin’ cool.)

later i met my mom at the santa rosa airport—she came to visit for a couple days. i took her to the beach the next morning for more tidepooling and beachcombing.

19 Jun 2011, 8:54pm
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green gulch


(this beautiful cob building is their garden tool shed.)


(really cool-lookin’ tree; some kind of red birch.)


(beekeeper; i can’t remember his name!)


(top bar beehive.)

not pictured: the tasty rhubarb cake that ashley and i made that morning; green gulch’s and slide ranch’s friendly interns; the zendo; a gorgeous hexagonal (or octagonal? i can’t remember) guest house made entirely with traditional japanese joinery techniques, no nails!

this last reminded me of something i read in this book i’ve been enjoying flipping through in the yurt lately, called home work, edited by marin local lloyd kahn. the book is a collection of owner-built homes-slash-works-of-art from all around the world. one of the homes included is a pretty incredible sprawling stone home that was built into a mountainside in south africa by one dude who did it all completely by hand, by himself. in the book he talks about how for 13 years folks told him he was crazy for building it, and then when he was done and living in it they told him he was so lucky to get to live in such a place! luck = crazy x 13 years of hard work.

or, beauty = patience x dedication.

16 Jun 2011, 9:40am
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just a little abundance


(flora made delicious challah.)


(give peas a chance!)


(a bed of bolted chard looks like a suessian forest. don’t worry, we have plenty of chard that hasn’t bolted, too.)


(iris makes poison hemlock look super tasty.)


(calendula.)


(remember those 1500 strawberry plants we planted? well.)


(growing through the netting!)


(yum.)


(yum yummmm.)

15 Jun 2011, 9:30pm
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here i am

A week ago I applied for my dream job. The position was a “farm education apprenticeship” at a large CSA farm. 20% farming, 80% education, including working with kids from a local Montessori school. It paid real, actual money (a little). Many things about it were impractical. It was in Santa Cruz, not Berkeley. It started on July 1st, in theory, two months before I’m scheduled to leave here. I found the listing online while sitting next to A on the bunkhouse couch here at the farm and slid my computer over to his lap. “It’s too bad it would be totally impractical to apply for this,” I said. He read it and said, “You should apply. We could make it work.” So I wrote an amazing cover letter (it was easy), sent it off, and heard back the same day from the woman hiring that she wanted to interview me. The first bite I’ve had on any of the lines I’ve cast.

So I emailed her back about my schedule and danced around the room trying to shake out my nervous energy. When I didn’t hear from her I examined her email and the email I’d sent a dozen times, trying to figure out what I’d said wrong. On Monday I finally reached her by phone and found out that she had offered the position to someone else on Friday; turns out they were really looking for someone to start as soon as possible, and I guess they jumped at the chance to hire someone they liked. My anxiety crescendoed. I was really disappointed. It was a Bad Scene in my head.

But there were some positive consequences of getting excited about, getting anxious about, and not getting this job. I found out that my dream job exists and that there is enough real, actual money in it that people who do this stuff are hiring apprentices. Not only that, but I had a “very strong application.”

I learned for sure that my partner supports my happiness and fulfillment above and beyond his own convenience and desire to have me near him.

I reengaged in life at the farm here, which I’d been halfway checked out of for a week. Dude, this place is amazing. Our garden is full of abundance. Today I found a head of lettuce that is, I swear, eighteen inches across. There are good people here for drinkin’ beer and talkin’ with. There are good people here for baking rhubarb cake with. I have a lot of things to do here, still, and two and a half months before they make me leave.

Yesterday was Kalyn’s birthday. Christine cooked delicious Thai food for dinner and she and Flo made vegetable sushi and strawberry-ice-cream pie. After dinner we had a spontaneous dance party in the kitchen, including a ridiculous group rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Then I went to bed with my tent’s rain fly pulled back so the bright, big, bold moon shined right in.

Also: baby quails following their mum and dad down the paths between rows in the garden; the young fox I held eye contact with for several minutes the other day before it turned and slid through the mesh in our deer fence; fat bumblebees diving in and out of comfrey flowers; hawks screaming. So happy to be a part of the more-than-human culture here, too.

This afternoon we went on a field trip to Green Gulch, a farm and Zen center further down Hwy 1, to hang out with their interns and the interns from Slide Ranch, which is also on the 1 between here and Green Gulch. We attended a beekeeping workshop with Green Gulch’s beekeeper, got some zazen instruction, meditated in their gorgeous flower garden, and then ate dinner all together. I chatted with some of the Slide Ranch folks. Guess what Slide Ranch does, my friends. Environmental and farm education for kids. Yup.

Guess where I needed to be to get to where I am. Here, here, here.

Guess where I’m going next. I don’t know, but wherever I am, there I’ll be.

11 Jun 2011, 10:19pm
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place energy

Like any good blog entry, this one wanders.

A. and Jordan are bicycling down the coast; they started in Portland and are now somewhere south of Santa Cruz. Two weeks ago after a week of posts to the craigslist rideshare board, I wrangled a last-minute ride up to Arcata to join them for a week or so’s ride back down here to Marin. I didn’t bring my camera, and my little camera, which I’d loaned to A., was stolen out of his panniers somewhere in Oregon. So I have no photographic documentation to offer, which every once in awhile is probably not a bad thing at all. At the beginning I was thrilled to be riding my bike. I love my body when it is moving. A few days later I was exhausted through-and-through. In Gualala, ninety-six miles from the farm and a day and a half before I had to be back, I called it quits. On Sunday morning I took a bus to Santa Rosa, got lunch with my dear friend Matt, and, after I missed the bus that would’ve gotten me to San Rafael and then to Olema before dark, asked him to drive me all the way home, which he very kindly did. A few hours after I arrived, just as I started to worry about them, A. and Jordan pushed their bikes up the driveway and through the gate.

(edit: A and Jordan after their 96-mile day—)

So: I couchsurfed; battled headwinds; stuck out the rain; stared up at redwoods; climbed to the highest point on the Pacific coast bike route (its not that high); rode down the hill all the way to the coast, which stretched out magnificently ahead of us for a few hours until it started to rain again. (The three of us also talked on and on amongst ourselves and with anyone who would listen about food and diet and veg*nism, but that is a story for another blog entry.) The physical difficulty of it surprised me. Sometimes I don’t quite believe that this is the same body that carried me over the Rockies and the Appalachians less than a year ago. Trying, now, to turn that shock & awe into inspiration. Gotta move my body.

During the trip I started and finished reading one book and started reading another. The first book was Mink River, a novel by Brian Doyle, a Portland author. I had seen two rave reviews for it in two unrelated spaces within a few days, and then when I was in Portland I saw it at (of course) Powell’s, and so I picked it up. I loved it. It is engrossing and beautiful, and somehow even the rain in this novel is invigorating. It is magical realist and synaesthetic (for example, one of the characters can smell pain). It is about a fictional small town on the Oregon coast and some of the human and animal folk who live there. That’s it. It reminded me of what I was trying to do during my senior year of high school, when I wrote part of a magical realist novel that tried for the same kind of compassionate omniscient style that Doyle makes look so easy. Except (I thought, while I read), Doyle’s novel is rooted in a place and a history that he seems to really know and feel, and he is not making the mistake I made of trying to be universal—which means he manages, quite nicely, to speak broad, even universal, truths.

But on further reflection I think the difference is more that Doyle is a writer with willpower, and I was a seventeen-year-old with dreams (and of course that is a very big difference). The Paris I wrote about was just as real as Doyle’s fictional Neawanaka, if a little less dimensional (and probably quite a bit less believable). It may have been a more real place for me than wherever it was I really was. When I was in high school I lived in Tacoma, Washington. Neko Case sings this great ode to Tacoma called “Thrice All American” (”it’s a dusty old jewel in the south Puget Sound”) and a few weeks ago someone had the album on in the kitchen here. When the song played, I laughed and said “I went to high school in Tacoma!” But my nostalgia was essentially an affectation. I remember the school, of course, and a few interchangeable landmarks: the park by the water, Tully’s Coffee, or Thriftway, which we would walk to after school mostly to walk somewhere—I can’t remember what on earth we bought. Maybe the local public high school, where I took my SATs, but again this is an affectation so that when the movie Ten Things I Hate About You comes up in conversation (which is, you know, all the time?), I can grin and say, “hey, that was filmed down the street from my high school! I took my SATs there!”

Anyway, I wasn’t there. I was in Paris. I had been there, for real, a few times before (yes, I was, and remain, incredibly lucky and privileged), with my mom and once with a large school group in middle school. Somewhere in there I fell in love with the idea of it, or something. Paris was my obsession and constant daydream. My email at the time was parisdreaming@hotmail.com. My email before that was stqce@hotmail.com, which is the typo you make if you’re an American trying to type “stace” (my family nickname) on a French keyboard. I read books about Paris, but only books that waxed as romantic about the place as I did. I fantasized about buying a one-way plane ticket, living in a one-room apartment on the top floor of an old building with a hidden courtyard (like this:

yes, exactly; the Paris of my dreams was extra-saturated and over-exposed just like this photo I took), lighting candles in front of Jeanne d’Arc’s stained glass window at Sacre Coeur. A few months after I gave up on the novel, my parents gave me a plane ticket (round-trip, though) for my spring break, and I went, alone. I was unbearably lonely and spent most of my time in museums, exaggerating my interest in the art in order to feel better about going back day after day, because I felt that it was okay to be alone there. (Plus, if you’re under 18 you can get into most Paris museums for free. I saw everything at the Louvre. Everything.) In the light of Real Paris, the Paris of my dreams faded away.

In Portland I started to learn how to apply the dream-place energy to the real-place and make magic happen. What I felt for Paris was powerful but unanchored. What I felt for Portland was more productive, though just as romantic.

All that to say that I am thinkin’ a lot about place, and place’s place (!) in the sacred question the thread of which I follow with my life and living: where is freedom?

And also that Mink River is excellent and may take you to unexpected places, like Paris.

Tomorrow it will be three years from the day I got hit by a car.