Friday, December 3, 2010

Further Adventures in Cali

The last weeks at the ranch were fun while bittersweet; it felt so natural to be there it was weird to think about leaving. The last weekend we were there we had a little party, lots of food and a few visitors. We barbecued about half a pig's worth of pork and had lots of other treats like squash pie and homemade caramel.
After the ranch, we went to San Francisco for a few days and then to visit some friends in Chico. In SF it was 75 and sunny, and two days later we were snowed in at a friend's house near Chico!
We stayed for Thanksgiving and met lots of wonderful people. It was a big potluck affair with 27 people and it was a blast.
There was an enormous amount of food including a "cheeseman" (snowman made of cheese balls)
Evan (friend from Kripalu) came up from SF for Thanksgiving and we drove back through the Central Valley which produces a lot of this country's food.
We stopped and bought some fresh winter fruit which we made into a lovely salad
We wandered around the city, went to Golden Gate Park
and the California Academy of Sciences, which is one of the coolest museums I've ever been to. The main part is a multi-level ecosystem where you can view the aquarium from above and underwater as well as 4 different levels of living rainforest, a planetarium, living roof and lots of educational non-living exhibits too.
What a trip!

I also made a pilgrimage to Cafe Gratitude - a raw food cafe whose cookbooks inspired me to experiment a lot with raw, vegan desserts
Then I went to Mount Madonna (another yoga study center with a residential volunteer program) to visit Broderick (another friend from Kripalu) and check the place out. Beautiful hiking trails, deer chilling outside the cabin, lots of good conversation and music.

From there I went to Santa Cruz to see Noush (another Krip friend) and then back to SF. I went up to Berkeley to visit Francie (a friend from Camp Green Cove - way back) and had dinner with her and her boyfriend Matt, wandered the Berkeley campus and hopped on a train to Salem, Oregon (It seemed romantic to take the train up North, but after 17 hours I'm not so sure)... though it was beautiful.
I am about to meet Rica & Erik (friends from UF TRiP) - just having a grand old time visiting people I love on the west coast, next stop Seattle!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ranch Style

Most of you know by now that I'm living on a farm in California, helping out with the harvest and living "Ranch Style" as we've come to call it.

The Ranch is a few hours north of San Francisco, up a windy mountain road, and down a 1/4-mile driveway where 4-wheel drive is ideal. It's a beautiful piece of land, a couple hundred acres down in a valley surrounded by hills and trees.

We have one spot of cell service and patchy satellite internet, so forgive me for not posting sooner... or e-mailing or calling. Also, I'm just having so much darn fun that it's hard to get myself on the computer. There are always chores to do, feed the chickens and pigs, get the eggs, weed & harvest the gardens and of course, cooking and cleaning.

I get the eggs in the morning and afternoon and do a lot of the cooking. I am having a blast cooking for 8-12 people, using what comes out of the garden (so much produce!) and even doing a bit of baking.

It was dry & sunny for the first month we were here, and we did some sun-dried cherry tomatoes
Now it's pretty cold and rainy, so we've got the wood stoves going. There are a few "buildings" on the property including a trailer, a yurt, a bus, a few big tents, a bathhouse, outhouse and kitchen.

I'm having great fun learning all sorts of new things... like how to drive a 4-wheeler, use a chainsaw and split wood. The wood stoves are also pretty great for roasting the chestnuts we gather around the property.
I live in the bus, which is a pretty sweet setup - there's a big bed and some shelves and a wood stove, and the outside is painted

It's pretty great being here, though it's more of a timewarp than even Thailand or Kripalu. In the 6 weeks I've been here, I've only left twice and the only people I see are the people that live here, which is cool because everyone's pretty great and it feels like we're a family.

One time we left the ranch, we went to the coast (Point Arena) for the Hops & Harvest festival which was a blast!

We tasted different beers, I helped press fresh apple juice, and we ate lots of good food. We even went out dancing at this fantastic Blues show.

The whole time we've been here "Mama" pig has been pregnant (she got knocked up by a wild boar) and she was huge. The other night she gave birth to some pretty darn cute half-wild piglets and I got to watch; here they are a couple days later.

One of my favorite things about the ranch is what we've dubbed "Ranch Style" a curious blend of odd clothes layering, not bathing and not washing our clothes, but I'll show you some pictures of that in the next blog.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Interlude in Canada

Between leaving Kripalu and going to Cali, I did some traveling and visiting in Ontario and NYC.

Visiting my Dad and stepmom in Guelph was fun, especially because the Guelph Jazz Festival was on and we saw a lot of great concerts in some cool venues.

We saw Greg Brown at Folkway which is a fretted instrument store and repair shop, which was cool because there were guitar, banjos, mandolins and more covering the walls in the small space where he played. It was an intimate show, only about 60 people.

He sauntered out of the back and took the small stage with his guitar in one hand and a big glass of red wine in the other. He put on a fantastic show playing a lot of old favorites, newer stuff, covers and improvising a good bit.

That night we also went downtown to "Nuit Blanche" part of the Jazz Festival that included concerts, dance performances and art installations in venues all over the downtown and went all night till sunrise. Who ever thought Guelph was this cool? My favorite was an indian-fusion electronic band that played in the City Council Chambers.

I was also graced with a visit from my lovely Kripalu roommate Nikki who was in Toronto and stopped by Guelph to have lunch and cut my hair.



and dry

I also got to go out to the Garden Plot and pick veggies