Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Happy Cider Time

This fall, Michaela decided it would be totally rad to make our own hard cider. Not sweet, girly cider, but French-style crisp cider. The kind that, prior to proper water sanitation methods in the 19th century U.S., was a more common beverage than water.

Ever heard of Johnny Appleseed? He wasn't planting "eating" apples, folks. He was planting apples for people to drink and get happy on.

So that's what we're doing. Making happy cider.

This past weekend was Phase 1: The Picking of the Apples. We picked 300 pounds of dry-farmed heirloom apples.

We're pretty excited about our apple selection. A variety of heirloom apples should do nicely for the type of cider we're after.

In a few weeks, we'll start the apple pressing process. We're currently researching the yeast strains we want to add to get the desired crisp, yet slightly sweet, lightly carbonated cider that will make us the most popular  brewing girls ever.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ray. Oh. Live.

Hi! Time for my seasonal blog post. Sad, but true. Blogging falls off the priority list these days. HOWEVER, I did want to post a particular high-spot in my life. I saw Ray. Live.
Finally.

I've been a Ray La Montagne fan since I first heard his music, back in 2006. I still remember vividly the first time I heard him. I had just moved to North Carolina, and his music peppered my almost 3-year stay there.
To this day, when I hear him, I think of seasonal, crispy leaves that fall in the autumn, windy singletrack, and how the air there becomes electric during summer thunderstorms.

Seeing him in concert has been on my "To Do in Lifetime" list for a while now, and I finally got the chance, this past Friday, in Berkeley.

My seats weren't great, but the acoustics were wonderful, and I was in music bliss for the hour and a half that he treated us to his mastery.

His voice--scratchy and soulful--filled the outside space. His crafted lyrics were even more poignant live, and though he fumbled through the moments when he had to stop singing and address the crowd, it made his raw singing even that more special. He unwrapped his gift and left it there, for the audience to unravel and take.I found it interesting that it was so uncomfortable for him to speak, yet he showed us his story--his heartbreaks, losses, and hopes--by sharing his lyrics and baring his voice.
I wish he could have played all night.

If he comes to a venue near you, don't miss his show.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

It's almost Friday. Poetry time.

My weeks, these days, blend into each other. I have settled into an easy rhythm of work and rest and gatherings with friends.
It hit me that tomorrow is Friday. Some poetry, I believe, is in order. The below poem I discovered in an anthology that I have. (And love, and read incessantly.)
I read this particular poem over and over.
It grips me, and lines of it jump out at me, during the day. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

August, by Esta Spalding

Skin-tight with longing, like dangerous girls,
the tomatoes reel, drunk
from the vine.

The corn, its secret ears
studded like microphones, transmits August
across the field; paranoid crickets, the noise of snakes
between stalks, peeling themselves from
themselves.
I am burdended as the sky,
clouds, upset buckets pour
their varnish onto earth.

Last year you asked if I was faint because of the blood. The tomatoes
bristled in their improbable skins,
eavesdropping.

*

This is one way to say it.
The girl gone, you left.

& this another. 
Last year in August I hung
my head between my knees, looked up
flirting with atmosphere
but you were here
& the sky had no gravity.

Now love falls from me, 
walls from a a besieged city.
When I move the mountains shrug off
skin, horizon shudders, I wear the moon,
a cowbell.

My sympton:
the earth's
constant rotation.

*

On the surface the sea argues.
The tide pulls water like a cloth
from the table, beached boats, dishes 
left standing. Without apology
nature abandons us.
Returns, promiscuous, & slides between 
sheets, unspooling the length
of our bodies.

Black wild rabbits beside the lighthouse
at Letite. They disappear before 
I am certain I've seen them.
Have they learned this from you?

*

I read the journal of the boy who starved
to death on the other side of a river
under trees grown so old he would not feed them
to a signal fire. His last entry:
August 12 Beautiful Blueberries!

Everything I say about desire or
hunger is only lip service
in the face of it.

Still there were days I know your mouth gave that last taste of blue.

*

When you said you were 
leaving
I pictured a tree;
spring, the green
nippled buds

not the fall
when we are banished
from the garden.

*

Another woman fell
in love with the sea,
land kissed by salt, the skin
at the neck a tidal zone, she rowed
against the escaping tide
fighting to stay afloat.

To find the sea she had to turn her back to it,
stroke.

The sea is a wound
& in loving it
she learned to love what goes missing

*

Once the rasberries grew into our room, swollen as the
brains of insects, I dreamt a 
weddding. We could not find our
way up the twisted ramp, out from under
ground, my hair earth-damp.

I woke. A rasberry bush cling to us
sticky as the toes of frogs.
A warning: you carried betrayal
like a mantis
folded to your chest -- legs, wings, tongue
would open, knife
the leaves above us.

*

If I could step into 
your skin, my fingers 
into your fingers putting on 
gloves, my legs, your legs,
a snake zipping
up. If I could look
out of your tired eyeholes
brain of my brain,
I might know
why we failed.
(Once we thought the same
thoughts, felt the same things.)

A heavy cloak, I wear
you, an old black wing
I can't shrug off.

O heart of my heart,
come home. O flesh, 
come to me before
the worm, before earth
ate the girl,
before you left without 
belongings.

*

You said, there are women
I know whose presence
changes the quality of air.

I am not one of those. The leaves
lift & sigh, the river
keeps saying the unsayable things.
I hesitate to prod the corn from the coals
though I have soaked it in Arctic water.
I stop the knife near the tomato
skin, all summer coiled there.
You are not coming back.

One step is closer 
to the fire.

September will fall
with twilight's metal,
                    loose change
from a pocket. Quicker than
an oar can fight water,
I will look up from my feet
catch the leaves red-handed
embracing smoke.

Around me, lost things gather
for an instant
in earth-dark air.



Wow, right? I still have to catch my breath a bit every time I read that. She summarizes heartbreak, and all of its nuances, in each one of those lines.

And here's one more.

Unfinished

We are a carefully assembled summer pie,
  we didn't bother to bake. The crust, soggy now
from the melting sugar, drooping butter
smashed fruit that has lost its fragrance.
Ruby red strawberries, pocked by delicate seeds. Bruised and bleeding their
deep juices run throughout the pressed,
rolled dough.
apples, skinless and vulnerable, slopped in cinnamon,
can't cover their nakedness.

Lattice top. Magazine-cover perfect. Embracing and weaving
a textured canvas that could barely contain the bursting fruit
Now sags.
Deflated


Even the tinfoil container has lost its crinkle.
  sunlight hardly reflects a sparkle. Just a tarnished reflection.

The oven groans and shifts as it cools and tightens up,
no longer expanding from the radiant heat.

I cannot reach it. I cannot reach it.

*

Once I saw our future children weaving through my legs. In your kitchen.
We would trade off, exchanging dates with the woods,
our moments lost in singletrack to escape the madness of our
bustling household

*

Sometimes, now, I grasp my arms, cross-like, around my own body
to feel what you must have felt. To step inside what could have been your thoughts.

I wonder if you thought me delicate,
crushable. A crispy, long-dead moth.

*
I dance between glasses of opaque red wine and cool, almost clear Chardonnays.

*

Come, let's twist the oven dial. A warm, smoking 400 should do nicely.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It's Le Tour. And I'm not at the Party

One of the most disappointing things to me is when July sneaks up and I can't watch the Tour EVERY DAY. Unfortunately, sadly, this is the first July in many, many years where I haven't even watched one blessed stage.

Have you ever had that experience where all of your closest friends are throwing a huge party and you can't go? They send you text messages and pics throughout the evening, just taunting you with the raucous fun they're having. You get that left-out, devastated, sinking feeling because you can't be there.

Well, basically, I get that feeling every day for three whole weeks when I'm not watching the Tour on the tele. I'm missing out on participating in my most favorite festivity of bike racing glory.

So get to the tele and watch it woman! you're saying, right?

I wish it were so simple. I spent the first week on vacation in a spot with no internet access, which was perfect and lovely--yet frustrating because I didn't see the opening stages. And now, I'm in my hometown working on a time-consuming project, with yet again no tele access and my internet time is limited.

Anyhow. I just wanted to share my lament that I'm sitting on the sidelines all month, and it's not-so-fun. I still love Le Tour. I'll blog about it ... eventually.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A writing living


I begin my day early with some strong coffee. Almost-summer mornings mean that light reaches through my windows before 6, taking me out of sleep. I settle in and knock out my more serious projects--business content for clients, blogs, or website copy. I research, I look for themes, and I try to pull out a story that draws people in--even if the subject doesn't scream "glamorous."

I carefully play within the confines of proper grammar but am comfortable enough with our beastly, cumbersome English that I can bend the rules just enough. To add expression. To make a point. I enjoy the methodical process of extracting key points and knitting together a thesis.

By evening, I'm ready for the creative work--true copywriting (ad copy), or for non-client work, poetry. Wine is a pretty fantastic creative elixir.

Ad copy and poetry are my favorite mediums to work in. The copy editor in me is allowed to throw out sentence parsing. By breaking the very rules designed to foster order and provide structure, I'm able to inject new forms of meaning. Fragments and misused (or absent) punctuation add a remarkable tone to otherwise lifeless constructions.

By the end of the day, I'm poured out and released. I go to bed fulfilled that I created and built text.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mendocino, and a reminder that there's life outside these walls

Well, I'm going to fully disclose right off-the-bat that the pictures I'm posting here are NOT pics I took of Mendocino. They're from that awesome photographer called Google Images. Have you met him? He's cool. I'll introduce you next time we're at a party.



Anyhow. Mr. Images is supplying the pics these days because, though I did bring my camera to Mendo, it never made it out of my bag. I was too distracted, I guess, by the TOWERING REDWOODS next to the ocean. Oh, sweet Northern California. Thank God the rest of California (or country) hasn't gotten the memo that you absolutely rock and are amazing. Because then everyone would move there and spoil your loveliness.

So my dear friend Michaela's family lives in Mendo, and she convinced me (it wasn't hard) to take an extended weekend and go up with her. Since it's a long, 8-hour drive from SLO, I split up the trip by spending the night in Woodside, with dear family friends, so it was all together a lovely deal.

The whole weekend was pretty much surreal. Her dad manages this ranch for a billionaire (that's not a Joanna exaggeration, BTW. The dude has. enough. millions. to. be. billions). The "caretaker house" where her family lives is top-notch. Viking Stove in a caretaker house? Why not? That kind of thing. Oh, and they have great views of the coast.

The 500-acre ranch is filled with horses, a barn chock-full of 4-wheelers (you know, to buzz around on in case the guest-house guests get bored), guns to shoot, and so on.

So Michaela and I, being the tomboys that we are, were in heaven.

Day 1:
Found a cool mt bike trail in the redwood-y forest to explore. Rode our bikes. Got lost. Story of my life. But it was cool.

Shot skeet and targets.

Rode 4-wheelers around the ranch. Tried to see how fast we could make them go without flipping them.

Groomed and saddled some horses for her dad.

Day 2:

Got up at 5:30, drove to private beach her dad has access to, scrambled/rappelled down (through poison oak*, just saying'), and picked our limit of GIANT abalone off the beach.



Rode horses around ranch.

Trailered horses out to Kris Kristofferson's more-beautiful-ocean-view ranch and rode horses there, too.

Cleaned abalone.

Ate.

The weekend, more than anything, was a wake-up call to me. I love being outside. Being dirty all day and forgetting to eat and shower because I'm doing physical labor and moving a lot are pretty much the best things ever. 
I grew up around horses and open space, and it was a nice reminder of how good it feels to ride, go exploring, and not worry about email and clients, and the generally nonsensical preoccupations that take up most of my day.

I LOVE my job. I do. I'm my own boss, and I'm grateful, every day, for the opportunity I have to work for myself. But it's also very easy to let work consume my life and my perspective. I forget to look around. I forget to take deep breaths. I forget to delight in just being.

The other wake-up call was that it took me 70 hours of work in 4 days to leave town for a 3-day weekend. So I started to think that maybe I should stop taking on so many projects and cap my new clients. It's a hard balance, though, when you're in business for yourself, to know when it's okay to let up on the gas.

I discovered, though, in those few days, that life is blowing by, in the form of a computer, and I'd rather see more redwoods, have dirt under my fingernails, and feel more breeze in my face than I have been lately.

So I'm trying to slow down a bit and take a breather. I'm going to try and head up to Woodside for a week every month and work up there. There's something about redwood forest, singletrack, and the peacefulness of woods and childhood memories that erase my stress and inclination to stuff so much productivity into every waking second.

And I miss this, blogging. I miss pausing and taking stock of where I'm at and why I'm here. So, anyhow, for what it's worth, my recent lesson was perspective. Get away occasionally. Re-prioritize, on a regular basis. That kind of thing.


* Guess what!? I have poison oak! Again! I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that it's going to cover me for the next five months or so.**

** Funny story. I keep Calamine Lotion by my bed now (it's a lonely existence, what can I say). I now just dump it on me in the middle of the night when things get itchy. Can you guess what color my sheets are these days? Hint: starts with a "p" and rhymes with "rink."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Little 500, Spring

I know I hardly blog anymore, which is lame. But you know what's not lame? THE LITTLE 5 OH OH. (Or zero, zero--for those of you who mind your proper English.)

Lately, we've been on this "warrior" kick. We're always dressed to kill or battle, it seems. That's our ammo box below. Loaded.
 




The race is seasonal, but we skip Winter, because that is our rainy season here, and the race is already chaotic enough, without all of that mud.

You never know what's going to come out at the Little 500. Jolly Green Giant and the Cowardly Lion. Re-united.



This event had the largest turnout I've yet seen, and people were COMPETITIVE. I saw quite a few unlucky souls get absolutely smashed* and taken out when they decided to cross the race track at the wrong time. This happened with increased frequency as the race wore on and people's beer laps accumulated. There may have been a correlation there.

Indians!



Our tandem team--wait for it--YES. YES. YES. We actually were fast! We tied for second, which is absolutely unprecedented, and pretty shocking, when you consider the shape of our rig. We were a force to be reckoned with--and not just because we were dressed as hunters and our team name was "If it flies, it dies." 80 + pounds of rusted steel, with two legit, half-drunk cyclists pounding on the pedals = momentum. If they're not teaching that in physics classes, these days, they should be.

Our rig. Carbon is totally not necessary to fly.


 There was nothing left in the sky when we were through.




So some of you may have heard all of this buzz about SLO being the happiest place in the U.S.? What Oprah failed to mention is that it's not because we don't have drive-thrus, and it's not because of our perfect climate, and stunning mountains, and proximity to the ocean, blah blah blah ... it's because we do crazy shit like the Little 500 three times a year. But don't tell her. We don't need her coming to town again.
Top: Me and Karl. He was chosen for his leg strength, chugging ability, and prowess in guiding the tandem through tight corners.  Below: Yukie and Chris about to make a pass.
 * Clarification. Everyone at the Little 500 gets "smashed." It is a beer-required event. I was referring to the smashed that happens when an un-mindful onlooker gets plowed by a moving mass of bike and costume.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

I haven't been blogging because ...

Hi. It's been a while.
I miss writing on this blog, and I confess the reason is because I'm a bit "blogged-out," if you will. I'm currently blogging for about a half a dozen of my clients, which I very much enjoy, but at the end of the day, I'm not super motivated to hop onto my own blog.


But the upside? I'm getting paid to write blogs, for other people. THEY PAY ME TO WRITE. Pretty awesome, huh?

 As soon as I can collect my own thoughts, together, in one piece, I'll post again.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The simple things.

I've been gone from my sweet town for almost three weeks, and it's amazing to be back and delight in the simplest of things.
Tonight, for example, I wandered over to Farmers' market. The Thursday night event around here. I was jostled a bit by the thousands of people on the street who were clambering for fresh oranges, persimmons, and broccoli.

I will never complain that there are too many people standing in line for in-season, local produce.  It was a warm January evening, and we had our fill of beautiful, bright orange, green, pink, and yellow produce to pick from. We are a fortunate bunch.