Friday, September 30, 2011

Stella Hits the Beach

 Here are some pictures from last week when Stella and I had a doggie date at the beach.

Meet Lulu and Julia.  Stella and Lulu?  Big dog, little dog?  Some things are meant to be.

Frisbee, dogs and friends.  The perfect equation for happiness.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

35 by 35, part 1

I have this friend.  She's a go-getter working on her phD in ecology, driven by personal challenges and accomplishments.  She's a fan of the popular 30 by 30 lists common for motivated people in their 20s to try to fulfill 30 goals by the time they turn 30.  I have a few friends with these lists and I always scoffed at them. 

Why set a timeline for pursuing dreams?  Why is there so much pressure to get things done by the time we're 30?  Why do we feel the need to put the pressure on ourselves?

She said that as you get older and get through landmarks like getting a degree, traveling independently and settling into stability (all important), it can be easy to become apathetic and lazy.  This, for her, is a good way to stay engaged and keep focused. 

I've always believed in setting goals for myself.  I had to agree, there is something to giving yourself a deadline, or those very things can fall by the wayside.

So with much hesitation, I am trying to open myself to crossing some of those things-I-want-to-do-one-day off my list.  Thus begins my 35 by 35.

I'm going to start with some easy ones, just to make sure I get them done.  The first thing is learning to change the strings on my guitar.  That one broken E string has left my poor neglected guitar crammed in the corner of my room.

My fave site for guitar basics has been  This is a straightforward tutorial on changing strings- and they also have the most approachable guides to learning chords and basic tuning.

In a perfect world, the strings are coiled neatly around the peg.  Mine came out pretty sloppy, but hey, it's my first time.  (This is also why I would strongly recommend buying a very cheap guitar for your first one, so it can take some abuse until you get your bearings.)

Not the prettiest, but once I sat down, I did it!  It took about an hour, including a very tedious tuning session (as the strings stretched and settled into their new positions).  Now she's ready to jam again!

I'm glad my friend sold me on the idea, and what better opportunity to get some things done that I've been procrastinating on?  I don't have a full list compiled yet, but here is the start of my list:
-change guitar strings
-quit smoking
-camp by myself
-learn to sail
-finish my book (and self publish)
-kill a chicken (there will be lots of weird back-to-the-land goals)
-skin a rabbit
-see Pacific Northwest (I've never gone farther north than Arcada)
-learn to lead climb
-use a chainsaw
-learn to sew
-explore manual photography and take better photos
-travel to Africa
 -read Ulysses (and study it so I understand it)
-learn to butcher (break down a side, and become familiar with all the cuts)
-go salmon fishing

That's it for now, but that's enough to keep me busy for a while.  What's on your list?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

42 Weird Meals from the 50s

I love this article- it's just ... weird.  I am a sucker for historical ironies (thanks to my dad), so vintage cookbooks with instructions for how to keep your husband happy with dinner on the table and other primitive mores are fascinating to me.  The same goes for archaic ingredients that were once in vogue.  Sardine salad?  Jell-O with cream cheese and pears?  Spam and lima beans?  Mmmmm.

Photos courtesy of buzzfeed.
I would have been more grossed out if I wasn't so wildly entertained.  And I'd probably be more nauseous if the ingredients weren't so incoherent.

Go here to see the article.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hiking with Stella ...

She gets distracted easily, but you gotta love the girl for having spirit.

The Garden Party

I have this friend who throws the most wonderful parties.

There is always something delicious to eat, like these hors d'hoeuvres with endive and smoked salmon, brie and quince membrillo and prosciutto-wrapped breadsticks.

Baked brie with herbs and cherries.

Grilled chicken, shish kabobs, green bean salad and fresh caught smoked salmon from my fisherman buddies at the party.

We finished the night with birthday caked topped with whipped cream and blueberries, followed by a campfire, karaoke and dancing under the stars.

I kinda like this whole summer thing.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


What amazes me about reading is when you find that perfect book for that perfect time in your life.  Since I've been slowly trudging through books ever since I moved here from New York (where commuting gave me over 2 hours a day for reading), it is always incredible to find a book I don't want to put down and can get through in less than a few weeks.

For me, that book was Cleaving, by Julie Powell.  You may remember Powell from the heartwarming Julie and Julia.  Well, forget her.  Cleaving is the evil twin, the story of a dark time when Powell worked in a butcher shop while she was in a wrenching affair.  The parallels she draws between breaking down meat and tumultuous relationships are poetic and relevant.  Though dark and ugly, the writing is brutally honest and vulnerable, which takes a lot of guts (did I mention the parallels?).  At a time when I couldn't be more disenchanted by food and love, this was the absolute perfect read.  This takes something as rudimentary as butchery or love, and shows the multi-layered complexity through beauty and ugliness.

At last, the part of me that always found butchery to be intriguing is finally understood by another.  I am this close to walking into Willowside Meats and asking for a job.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I'm housesitting for a sweet boxer who looks more human every day.

Really, the resemblance is uncanny.

Monday, September 12, 2011


This was intended to be a backpost from earlier this summer when my friend spotted a tarantula in her living room moments before I drifted off on the couch.  (Yep, it woke me up.)

Very fitting, since I'm housesitting for her this week and guess what I found in the kitchen sink this morning.  It may have been this little guy's twin.

I'm not too proud of myself, because unlike my spider-friendly pal, I washed the little Charlotte down the drain, instead of letting him out on the porch.

I'm getting over a lot of fears, but spiders have a ways to go.  At least little spiders won't seem so bad now.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Just so you know ....

.... I'm catching up!  And housesitting again- this will be my third out of four housesitting stints in three months.  I love it, it totally changes up my routine and gives me quiet time (I can never get enough time alone).  And nothing makes me more productive than changing up my routine!  That means I'll finally be putting up those posts I've sat on all summer because the internet at my house is too slow to upload the photos and I don't want to do it at work because it involves my own computer separate from my work computer and that it's too much at the end of day of staring at a computer all day.  Whew!

But this week, more will be coming in at last, you patient handful of readers out there (Dad).  I'm deep in the redwoods with snuggly animals and fast internet and the chance to focus, so some writing will be done!

I can't wait.  Stay tuned, and please forgive me for breaking the cardinal rule of blogging and backdating some posts.  It's just too sad to write about my fourth of July weekend at the end of September.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hay Fever

There are benefits to being free on a Saturday afternoon.  Yesterday, I got a call from a friend who lives on a sheep ranch looking to see if I was available to help stack hay.  

My farm experience is limited to feeding goats at the petting zoo, so of course, I said yes.

I showed up and this is how the barn looked:

All the baled hay from the fields needed to be moved inside before it rains, so our work was cut out for us (a crew of three women, three men, an eleven-year-old girl and a nine-year-old boy.

Here are some thoughts from the day (prepare for the obvious):

-Nothing makes you feel like a bigger sissy than farm work.  I'm in pretty good shape from rock climbing, and I thought I was strong for my size.  It turns out I'm quite wrong.

-Anything farmy with children makes the best combination.  Kids make hard work seem fun (when it's outside at least), they become better people through it, and they get tired more quickly.

-Sustainable communities are full of really, really nice people.

-Hay bales are kind of heavy and involve some technique in moving- the only way that worked for me was jamming a hay hook into the front edge and dragging it while scooching my body backwards.  My guess is it wasn't a pretty sight.

-I've had a sore shoulder for a couple months and the hard manual labor actually made it feel heaps better.

-Sometimes I can forget how wonderful it is to give your time to help others.  It's a great reminder that I need to do it more often.

After three loads with two trucks and a trailer, this is what we were left with:

Now if you'll excuse me, the tub is calling for me and my weary, wussy bones.