These mornings, we wake by 7am. We’re in bed by 9pm. Really, whatever combo gives us maximum sleep time given we’re really on baby time, not our own. Mallory gets up without complaint, puts on something warm, and heads directly for Solstice. The warm mother touch soothes any hunger cries that may be coming from that direction. Admittedly, I seem to be rolling out of bed second these days. A change from the past but I’m not too far behind. It’s time for coffee, more precisely, espresso fills our cups these days. The radio is turned on with the volume set at a level between I care about what’s happening but I also want to hear the birdies. The radio doesn’t wait for you. Something I find enduring when most information is there when we want it. The radio is “take it when we give it” and soon the familiar NPR voices come alive. Traffic on the Bay Bridge, “Ahh, thankful I don’t have to commute,” I say to myself. Cease-fire in Sudan, “Grateful we have peace in our community.” The news providing a sense that our battle is nothing compared to that of others. Of course, it’s all relative but ignorance or being oblivious is no excuse to not hold space for our neighbors no matter how far abroad. After Solstice gets her morning breakfast, I start on ours. These days, it’s anything from day-old nachos turned into our version of chilaquiles or most often, a fried egg on fresh bread baked the day before. I find peace in the routine, love in each other, and an appreciation for the day that has begun to unfold.
Fog and cool mornings here along the Russian River. The blue sky has been slow to appear. The summer veggies are either confused or taking a deep breath before the summer bares its heat. The brewer’s blackbirds fiercely defend their nest as I grab the mail, dive bombing my head but I can’t blame them. We’re continuing to pick a small bin of strawberries every couple days. Letting the broccoli go for a little longer. Note to self, plant earlier in Fall as they never quite took off until now. The florets have been quite tasty simply roasted in olive oil and salted on the cast iron. Any day now, I expect aphids to show their force and devour their tender sweet flesh. Only then they will be removed from their beds to meet their final resting place. A compost pile to feed the next generation.
A sign of a healthy garden. The buzzing of bees visiting the flowering maple. Other lesser known pollinators floating around the parsley in bloom. Pill bugs discovered under a layer of wood chips. Cabbage moths floating effortlessly over the brassicas planted a season ago. A slug eating a delicious perfectly ripe strawberry. A healthy garden is not free from insects that cause damage to plants or fruits. A healthy garden consists of the whole entourage. There’s a metaphor there that can be applied to our society. The fervent desire in today’s world to squash anyone that doesn’t support our views. A healthy society like a healthy garden has space for all and in turn, everyone benefits.
the free stand
I want to connect with my community. I want to share with my community. We are a somewhat rural town made up of old houses that are more like cabins constructed by people living in San Francisco who wanted a place to stay in the summer along the Russian River. This vacation hot spot has now turned into more affordable full time housing with a tight knit community.
As I wasn’t new to the area but new to this neighborhood, I wanted to meet our neighbors. Through daily walks we slowly began to meet our neighbors. The ones living here for 50 years under the tall redwood trees to the newly arrived family who loved the unique character of the neighborhood. You’d be hard pressed to find a house identical to the next.
There is a beauty in sharing and offering help. I believe the person offering the help oftens benefits just as much as the one receiving. So when I had contemplated putting up some sort of stand to offer veggies our family couldn’t consume or to share the odd piece of clothing or tool no longer needed in our household, I knew it would benefit us just as it would our neighbors. With the help of some recycled wood from old fences, a piece of drift wood, and old deck wood I was able to create a little stand to do just this.
I put out extra veggie starts and was left a note thanking us because this particular person hadn’t been able to get to the nursery this year. I put out veggies only for them to be brought back cooked for us. Items that may have been thrown out have been quickly picked up extending that item’s lifetime. It’s been great to have people stop and look in the garden while visiting the stand. I’ve met many people in the neighborhood as well as people just paying through. All my experiences have been positive regarding this stand.
So, today, I go out and look to see what’s been taken. A pair of old speakers, a lime, and a plate. I’ll imagine this person sipping a margarita, eating a grilled cheese while listening to their favorite tunes. Our items that were collecting dust are brought to life through new eyes and hands.
Garden Update October 1st
(hopefully) becoming a runner part 1
It all started when I read “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. No, not really, it didn’t start there nor have I ever read the book which from my knowledge talks about how humans are uniquely born to run. It started because I wanted to have more stamina for kayaking with Mallory in the various bays and rivers we have in Northern California. With kayaking being mostly limited to the longer summer days, I also needed to find a way to remain active during the winter months. Since I got hit by a car while cycling, I haven’t been able to find the same drive with cycling that I once had. I thought maybe running could fill this empty hole that cycling had left.
I find my emotional state is directly tied to how much physical activity I have in a day and now that I’ve worked in an office for the past 6-7 years instead of outside at a plant nursery, it’s more important than ever to stretch, stay nimble, and get my heart rate up. I played a lot of team sports growing up and running was something we had to do but did not want to do. It was only until high school where I discovered cross country running. I never joined cross country team but I was inspired by the trail running shoes and running races through tough terrain. It was hiking on steroids! From there, I dated several people who were into running whether it was triathlons or strictly running for the joy of it. Time to time I would run for fitness (a couple miles here and there) and I also ran a few small 5ks but nothing beyond that.
Like anything in life, we like to think the ideas we have are our own but in reality, it’s probably a mix of self-interest and what we’ve been exposed to through others we’ve come in contact with. I’d say most of the time , we need to know something exists before we have interest in it. We find out it exists through others. It may and is typically not an immediate response, you might be exposed to something over years and then finally, it clicks, you start to pursue this thing. At that moment, you think, “Ah, what an original idea” but in reality, it’s because you’ve been exposed to it over time.
As I began down my running path, I learned my 40 dollars shoes although better than most would not cut it which began my dive into the tech side of the running industry. There is plenty to buy in the world of running and plenty of stuff that’s probably not necessary. From my research, what I found necessary is a good pair of shoes. This pair of shoes would help me avoid injury, run faster, jump higher, just like the PF Flyers in Sandlot (if you haven’t seen the film, please watch). OK, maybe not jump higher but definitely avoid injury and run faster. Avoiding injuries is something that has become increasingly important for me in my 30s. When fitting running shoes, I learned that you need to go up a size or at least have a thumbnail space because your feet swell on a run and normally throughout the day. I should know this from all the backpacking I do but I guess I just dealt with it. After searching reviews, youtube, and all other corners of the internet I decided on the Saucony Endorphin Speed, the 2019 running shoe of the year.
Now equipped with a new pair of flashy running shoes, I set off on my first runs. Typically around 2 miles in length. I found my pace to float around 9 minutes and 30 seconds a mile (~5:54 a km). It seemed slow to me but it was encouraging. I found it hard to fit running into my routine, even 30 minutes felt like so much time. It seems making something routine is a hard thing to do. I hoped by starting small, I wouldn’t get burned out. I remember when I started meditating and 2 minutes felt like an eternity but I was able to work up to 20-30 minute long meditations. And just like meditation, the longer the experience, the more benefit I was able to achieve. That runner’s high is no joke, I never feel bad emotionally after a run. It’s always, “I’m glad I did that.”
Being my competitive self, I wanted to experience growth and improvement rapidly. I wanted to increase my mileage quickly. I wanted to get faster ASAP. With this drive to improve at a rapid pace, I would start to run into issues, no pun intended. The push to become a “better” runner hurt my progress as I soon to develop various injuries. Notice the word better is in quotes because a better runner doesn’t necessarily mean getting fast quick, it means knowing your body and having patience. A lesson I would learn again and again on my path to becoming a runner.
Part 2 coming soon…
clam chowder, a crab sandwich, a hike, and some quiet
I’ve now been back living in Sonoma County for a year and ever since I moved back we’ve been wanting to get down to Spud Point Crab Company to get a crab sandwich and some chowder. Unfortunately, the lines can be very long on the weekend so we often pass it up in favor of something cooked out of our camper van. Fortunately, we both happened to be free on a Friday, a not so busy day on the coast compared to the weekends.
When a three day weekend is on the calendar, I find it nice to really take advantage of the first day. It sets up the stage for a fulfilling weekend. One of those weekends where you wake up on Saturday morning thinking it’s Sunday only to realize you have another day to enjoy without the pressures of work. We decided to take full advantage of our Friday and head to the coast for a rare meal out and a nice quiet hike.
For us, it’s pretty simple to get to the coast. It involves no turns, just a willing old van. Lately I’ve been having a mysterious power draw while the van is off so I was happy when I turned the key and it started after two weeks of being parked. With Betty in tow, we loaded up the van for a trip to the coast and to catch that elusive crab sandwich that has evaded us for so many months.
We’ve been in the middle of a little oh so common January heat spell which made for a powerful sun that burned off any fog by the time we reached the coast. It was a beautiful day on along the coastline with offshore winds spraying off the lip of crashing waves. We passed Goat Rock State Park where there are opportunities to rock climb and skirted by Salmon Creek where a few surfers were out catching waves. A couple miles passed Salmon Creek and you come to the turn for Bodega Head. Previously, a place for potato farms,once a proposed nuclear site and now a state park.
Along this road you’ll drive along Bodega Bay, a pocket of protected water from the crashing waves of the Pacific. Crab pots stacked high on both sides of the road, harbors with new and old fishing boats, a few seafood restaurants, kayakers deploying crab traps and fishermen trying their luck from the banks. It’s a beautiful place that can get pretty busy on the weekends but was only moderately active on this Friday before noon.
We decided we would hike before our meal in the state park that you can find at the end of the road but those plans changed when we saw no dog signs. Coleman Beach allowed dogs so we stopped there and Betty got her first taste of ocean water. The wind was strong, enough that it blew us right back into the warm confines of the van and down the road for an earlier than expected meal at Spud Point. Surprisingly, there was parking and there was only one person in line. A rarity and it seemed our time had finally come. Two New England style clam chowders and a crab sandwich to split. We drove up the road to a pull out and enjoy our meal looking out over Bodega Bay. The clam chowder had a kick and was quite delicious. The crab sandwich was delicious too but maybe not as good as I remembered. Side note, these days, we often struggle to eat out because we can cook up some pretty good meals at home that can match what we get at restaurants (at least to our palates!) and save money while doing so. Still, we were satisfied and our bellies were warm. It was a nice treat to enjoy together and Mallory got to have her first taste of Spud Point Crab Company.
We then took Coleman Valley Road, a well known road in these parts that starts on the cliffs at the coast and rises through farmland while offering scenic vistas as far as the eyes can see. Off this road, you’re able to access one of the trailheads into the Willow Creek preserve. Here we got to enjoy a nice 6.5 mile loop that gave us respite from the constant wind we experienced on the coast. The trail is surrounded by Oak, Fir, and Bay forest with ferns and mushrooms coating the understory. One thing we noticed relatively quickly was the absence of noise. This was a hike that was truly medititave. Big breaths, sighs of “I’m here,” were common as we weaved our way through this beautiful preserve.
After the hike we dropped down into the small town of Occidental before making our way to Mimi’s Ice Cream in Sebastopol to top off an excellent day with Mimi’s Mud (Mallory’s favorite flavor of ice cream). A beautiful start to our three day weekend.
saturday morning, a cup of coffee and some seeds
I love an early morning, a fresh cup of coffee and day wide open to meander around the house with no plans. Opening the door, I can see the fog hanging low around the houses, the sun peeking over the tufts of trees and the cold air kissing my face. This isn’t the same scene at 2PM. No, this is only a view your treated with if you happen to be an early riser.
I am not one to get bored at home. I don’t need plans to enjoy a day. No, quite the contrary. A day where the plan is to not have a plan. There is always a long list of different projects I can get my hands in. Whether it’s braising some meat throughout the day in the Dutch oven, fixing some steps, organizing tools, researching the next campsite or run.
This morning was devoted to getting some seeds planted. All cold weather veggies, flowers, and herbs. Although it’s the middle of January, I can get them started in the house and transplant outside. We’ve been getting kissed with light frosts but nothing that would kill the seedlings. They may grow slow during these months but sometimes I’m surprised the growth that will occur. In California we seem to have warm stretches scattered through the winter and we happen to be in one now. Days in the high 60s, even low 70s. Bad for drought, bad for fire season but great for plants that get to take as a stage of all the early season rain.
You can’t beat taking care of a task and drinking that first cup of coffee only to look up at the clock and realize it’s only 8am. These are the days that I cherish. I’m so blessed to have the life I have, to live around such beauty and to be surrounded by people (and dogs) that I love dearly. The regular ol’ day is a great day.