Category Archives: Relationships

Permaculture Passion

Spring BeeHappy Spring! So many changes! And I admit it; I’ve been struggling. If you know anything about anxiety and depression, you know that one of the classic symptoms is isolation. Yep, I’ve been isolating. Even from my blog. I’m feeling better these days, though, and here’s proof positive: here I am at last.

What are the changes? Let’s see, the kingpin change is that Beth is getting married. For the Continue reading

Celebrating Serendipity

braceletsIt’s been an interesting week! The high points will require some back story, so bear with me. Back story 1: During the summer of 2013, when my two week vacation in Michigan unexpectedly turned into five months, Beth’s and my home in California was robbed. Mostly they took jewelry, and the saddest part of that was the pieces they stole that had sentimental value. Beth lost a pair of earrings that had been a gift from someone very dear to her who had passed over a decade earlier. Though both Beth and the insurance company did their best, they could not find a suitable replacement, which has been very sad for Beth. Continue reading

Days 335 – 341: Work, Wax, Walking, Learning & Listening

20141204_091450This past week a lot of my ONTs have been taking the next step in a new process. Days 335 and 338 were learning new things at work; Tuesday I was learning about how the machines work, how to thread them, etc., Friday I started to learn the process from the computer and design side. Days 336 and yesterday were the next steps in wax processing. Wednesday we cleaned off the Continue reading

Days 243, 244 & 245: Changes

This One New Thing, the way I’ve been doing it, is becoming increasingly difficult for me to manage. As I prepare for my big adventure to Mexico, I realize that I’ll be doing many new things. Yet I also realize that I’m going to have to have a very different focus there, because I have an actual task I’m going there to accomplish. Beyond that, more and more I find that I’m writing about my ONTs when there are other topics that feel more important to me that I’m neglecting in favor of ONTs. And last but definitely not least, since my focus for the last 2/3 of the year has been on ONTs, I have barely worked at all on my manuscript. And as the days fly by, I have come to realize that that’s simply no longer acceptable.  Continue reading

Days 232 & 233: Little Sheep Mongolian Hotpot & Website Trauma

Wednesday’s One New Thing was a visit to a new restaurant, the Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot. I thought my girlfriend Angel had suggested it, so I invited her to join me. Even better, she hadn’t suggested it, had never been there in fact, so it was new and exciting for her, too. And she invited another friend, someone I knew a little and hadn’t seen for awhile. In fact, I’d only met him a few times, and every time I’d seen him he’d been wearing a ball cap and a grubby T-shirt, and furthermore I didn’t know she’d invited him to join us. So when I got to the restaurant, the maitre d motioned me in and told me my friend was waiting for me. I didn’t see Angel, just a young man with a long ponytail slicked back, wearing a white sport coat and standing by a table looking at me. Honestly, he looked a little . . . suspect. I scowled at him and said, “That’s not my friend!” (I’m nothing if not graceful!) Then I took a second look and realized who it was and then, of course, I was terribly embarrassed. He handled it with more grace than I, though, and soon enough Angel arrived and we could forget my faux pas.

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Days 227 & 228: Poem & Alameda Creek Regional Trail

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I’ve never pretended to be a poet. Decades ago I would now and then sit down and slam out a poem. All these years later I remember three that were pretty good, and one – from about 8th grade – that already showed alarming cynicism. The three pretty good ones were all about weather. I learned that the harder I tried to write poetry, the worse my poetry got. If I just let the words fall where they fell, I could be content with the results. Here’s my favorite (don’t panic – it’s short!):

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Day 192: Panum Crater and Floating in Mono Lake

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July 11, day four of our camping trip to Mono Lake, day 192 of One New Thing. We are once again with our new best friends. (As a special treat, my first set of pictures – just below the break – comes from Carlo. These were actually taken the day before, but I just got them, and they are too great to skip. The pictures will tell you all you need to know about why we got along so well with Michelle and Carlo.) We meet up with them for our trip into the youngest volcano in North America: Panum Crater. This little baby is only 600 years old, and though she’s napping soundly, she could wake up any time. (Panum Crater is right next door to Mono Lake – 15 slow, bumpy minutes away by van – which is one of the oldest lakes in the world.) Our whole trip has been remarkably free of other tourists (barring last night’s event at the Mobil station) and today is no exception. The four of us head off along the dusty trail, happy to be climbing in the breezy morning rather than in the wilting heat of an afternoon.

* * *We interrupt this narrative for a few moments of pure silliness.* * *
* * *And now, back to our regularly scheduled program.* * *

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Panum Crater doesn’t look like much from a distance, just a big jumble of rocks, rocks, and more rocks. And to be honest, at no point does it ever look like much more than that. I expected to be hiking a trail along the perimeter of an obvious crater, maybe with black lava walls and perhaps even a sleeping-dragon’s wisp of steam rising from the obvious, deep-down center. Um, no. I had heard about huge obsidian towers, and I imagined them shining and flashing in the sun like black glass obelisks. Again: no.

But please don’t get the impression that I was disappointed, exactly. I just needed a slight expectation adjustment. After all, it was a beautiful day, we were with wonderful companions, and there truly was lots to see and enjoy.
And the variety of rocks, pebbles, stones and boulders was incredible. Much of the rock is pumice, which is formed by minerals frothing in the volcano’s explosion, leaving the resulting rock full of teeny-tiny air pockets, making it extremely light, though it doesn’t look light. Obsidian, which is like black glass, is the same chemical composition as pumice, but very different in weight, texture, appearance. . . everything.  Plus there are these things called breadcrust bombs. When the volcano exploded, wicked hot stuff shot into the air. It cooled very quickly, forming a crust around the still hot center. As the center cooled, it expanded, cracking the crust, just like what happens to a loaf of bread when it bakes.
And then there are the big pictures.
I want to express my extreme gratitude here for my amazing healing-machine of a body. Just over thirteen months ago I had a new ACL made for me out of my hamstring (the original ACL snapped clean through when I fell off a ladder), and some tidying up done on a badly torn lateral meniscus. Now I can climb rocks like a mountain goat, and, in fact, was often up ahead of my companions, seeing if there was a way through. I consider this nothing short of miraculous!
Love this skeleton of an ancient, giant tree.
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Um, oh, wait, maybe it’s not so giant after all!
These look like ordinary, weigh-a-ton boulders. Truth is, they’re pumice, and are comparably very light.
It’s a crazy place, Panum Crater. Little things look big, things that should be heavy aren’t, distances are warped. . . sort of like my sense of humor. There was a lovely moment as I was walking a ways ahead of Michelle. Beth and Carlo were nowhere in sight. I saw a deep depression in the rock bed up ahead, and was suddenly seized with an uncontrollable urge. I’d be hidden from view in every direction, if I hurried. . . . Quick as thought, I raced into that private place and peed! It’s not like I even needed to! I just suddenly thought, Hey! I never peed on a volcano before! And so I did.
The morning was over, but we weren’t. None of us had gone swimming in Mono Lake, and that was definitely on our to-do lists. We were all hot and tired from our volcano hike, and a dip in the lake sounded nice and refreshing. Well, sort of. As I mentioned before, Mono Lake is 2-1/2 times saltier than the ocean, in addition to being highly alkaline. First off, shoes on or off? I opted for on, and I was glad I did. The process that built the tufa towers continues to this day under the water, and, until we got out a ways to the sandy areas, the lake bottom was sharp and crunchy-crumbly, not at all comfortable. The day was coolish and breezy, so I needed to get myself under the water and stay there or I’d be freezing. I meant to duck-walk until the water got deeper, but it was so salty that my legs kept floating up to the surface! I ended up all crunched up and walking on my hands instead of my feet, while fighting to keep my feet in the water so I wouldn’t fall over backwards. It was hilarious! No pictures, though, since we were all in the lake. Eventually I borrowed Michelle’s cap and put it over my face (I was badly sunburned already), then laid myself out on the surface of the water. I couldn’t have sunk if I’d tried! I just lay there, and the movement of the water gave me a lovely massage as I let all the tension release out of my body. Lovely! However, every time I stood up out of the water, I got very staggery, almost drunk-dizzy. I don’t understand why. But the same thing happened to Michelle. I don’t know about Carlo, but neither Michelle nor Beth really enjoyed being in the lake. I loved the floating, and I didn’t want to get out, but I was getting too cold for comfort.
We’d heard that if you put clothes in the lake, they’d come out completely clean because of the alkalinity. Naturally, I’d brought a bunch of white things with me for experimentation. But after being in the water, my hair was, well, grotesque is the word that comes to mind. It felt absolutely disgusting, dry and stiff and like straw, only really, really dry and filthy straw. So I pretty much nixed the idea of doing laundry in that water. However, I still wanted to experiment, so I pulled out the pair of socks I’d worn on my last camping trip that refused to come clean. After all, it’s not like they could get any worse. And, in fact, they didn’t. But they didn’t get any better either.

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I thought we were done for the day, but not quite. Michelle pointed up the beach, to what I’d thought was a long, low faded fence of some kind. Nope, it was a new kind of tufa – sand tufa. These things look quite different from the lumpy bumpy tufa towers at South Tufa (we were east of South Tufa at Navy Beach), are much smaller, and supposedly can be so soft that they’ll crumble if you touch them (so we were very careful!).

It was a long day. Now, with my hair feeling like I’d been asleep in a desert crypt for centuries, it was time to head back to our campsite for a wash (with maybe a brief detour into town for ice cream). We hugged and hugged and hugged Michelle and Carlo; who knows if and when we may see them again? The next day we were all headed home. But we took with us great memories, and lots of pictures!

Have you done something new today?

Days 53, 54 & 55: Haute Chocolate, Redwood Forests & Ballsy Action

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My sister Judy loves living vicariously through this blog, and as a result she keeps sending me recipes that interest her. I’ve used several of them, and will no doubt use more. Saturday’s One New Thing is compliments of her: Superfood Haute Chocolate by Sarah Britton (Sarah’s the one who developed the Bread that will Change Your Whole World recipe (btw I now eat that every single day – it really has changed my whole world!). 
This is a raw food recipe and uses foods that are extraordinarily powerful nutritionally, such as organic raw cocoa powder, organic coconut sugar, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, ginger (duh!) and a brand new ingredient for me: maca.
According to Sarah, “Maca is an ‘adaptogen,’ meaning it has the ability to balance and stabilize the body’s hormonal, nervous and cardiovascular systems. For this reason it is particularly effective for improving libido. Maca also has the ability to help us cope with stress, and stabilize our moods and energy.  Boasting 31 minerals and trace elements, maca is a nutritional powerhouse and a stress-relieving, healthy addition to many foods.” 
(Hopefully it’s not too effective at improving libido, or, as a single woman, I could be in trouble!) I didn’t have any maca, since I’d never heard of it before, but for some reason Beth had some, in capsule form, that she wasn’t using (I now know that it takes about seven capsules worth of maca to fill a teaspoon).

This was easy to make, though it does have a lot of ingredients just for a cup of hot chocolate (even if it is outrageously good for you), and you have to be careful not to get the liquid too hot or you’ll kill lots of great nutrition. Maca has a rich, sweet taste that I liked, and of course I love the gngery peppery bite.

But will I make it again? I admit, I’m not really sure. The flavor was delicious, and as I got closer to the bottom of my oversized mug, the taste got better and better. However, as I got nearer to the bottom there was also a lot of, um, stuff. Many of those good ingredients apparently don’t dissolve all the way. By the end, I almost felt like I needed to chew. I do not, DO NOT like that in a beverage! But it was delicious…. Maybe if I mix it up in my bullet mixer it will integrate the ingredients better. So, yes, I probably will try it again, at least once.


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Yesterday – Day 54 – was another Rowan Adventure Day. She took me to the Redwood Regional Park above Oakland. The drive there was beautiful, although the closer we got to the park, the more crowded the twisty-turny-narrow road got with parked cars and hikers. We weren’t too thrilled about that, because we both waaaay prefer having nature to ourselves, but we were there, so what could we do? Right at the trailhead you can choose to go up, which has an off-leash area for dogs, or down toward the creek. Beautiful four-legged Luna was with us, definitely on leash, so we chose the down road. Thank you Luna! All those darn hikers in the park, and we hardly encountered any! But we did encounter pussy-willows blooming and redwoods, ferns and fungus and cherry blossoms and sunlight and butterflies and even some deep, beautiful stillness. We maybe went a bit too far (my leg is complaining today), but it was so lovely we hated to turn back.
When we left the park, we drove for a bit, then pulled over at one of those great California pull-over spots to have our picnic lunch. Poor us, stuck with this view.


Today’s One New Thing probably would have been impossible for me just a few weeks ago. This kind of thing is crazy stressful for me, since I have oh-so-many hang-ups about money. I can make myself nuts. But I’d received some advice from people I trust and respect, so I called a dear friend for emotional support, I breathed deeply and did a little meditation, and then I took my courage in both hands (and my teeth) and made a really scary phone call. I have this one ginormous bill for post-surgery services rendered, and I’ve been making minuscule monthly payments. This afternoon I called and asked them to reduce the balance by 30%. Thirty percent! AND THEY SAID YES!!! Boy, whoever said “it can’t hurt to ask” sure knew what they were talking about.


Have you done something new today?

Days 43 & 44: Berkeley Rep & Cervical Traction

My friend has season tickets to the Berkeley Repertory Theatre: lucky me! I’ve never been much for public transit; it makes me nervous and I’m always afraid I’ll get on the wrong train, get off at the wrong stop, miss my connection, be late, get lost, you name it. Even so, there’s something I love about the frittery energy of waiting for BART so I can head into Oakland and meet a friend to go to the theatre.
Last night’s event achieved ONT status because this was the first time I’d gone to a World Premier play. I was all excited! The House that will not Stand was commissioned by Berkeley Rep and written by Marcus Gardley, an Oakland native, and this is its first run anytime, anywhere. Sadly, there was no dramatic fanfare, no pop! of champagne corks, no cutesy little hors doeuvres to celebrate. However there was the play. And what a play it is! Set in 1836 New Orleans, it’s about free women of color, focusing on one family: a mother and her three daughters. The mother was the colored mistress of a rich white man, who had fathered the girls. New Orleans was a place apart even then, and that was true in “race relations” as in everything else. I won’t go into the story or the backstory, but I will say that this was far and away the most entertaining show I’ve seen there yet – and that’s saying a lot! The dialogue was at times hilarious, and at times so poignant it made my heart pound. The acting was superb. And let me tell you this: Marcus Gardley can turn a mean insult! Ribald and rich, The House that will not Stand is wonderful!
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Today it was back for another stab at job shadowing. I was hoping to do One New Thing there, but mostly I just ran like hell to keep up with the extremely high energy woman I was shadowing. She is super nice, but she talks incredibly quickly and quietly, and is often moving away from me as she’s speaking, so half the time I can’t really hear her. Bless my brain, though, it pieces the bits together pretty well, so if I don’t panic and I just be patient for five seconds, her words usually form into sense for me. Whew! However, just when I was despairing of finding my ONT, we hooked up a patient for cervical traction. How cool is that!? As an occasional migraine sufferer, that had instant appeal! Could she, would she?  Yes, she would! My new best friend hooked me up, and before I went home I got 10 blissed out minutes having my neck ever-so-gently stretched. Ahhhh.

I like how I’ve changed in just these few short weeks. Instead of cringing away from unfamiliar situations, and being too timid to ask for directions or help or the occasional cervical traction, I’ve got my eyes open, always on the lookout for opportunities. But at the same time I’m able to love the moment I’m in, whatever is going on. My overall humor is better. In fact, the strangest thing happened last night. As I lay in bed, settling in to the quiet dark, I suddenly, for no apparent reason, got a fit of the giggles. All by myself, just me and my bear Dooley, I lay there laughing like a loon. Which was pretty darn funny, really. It felt good to be so silly. And one more thing: I’m trusting my intuition more. Today I made a firm decision based solely on the strong guidance of my heart. My brain said I was giving up all sorts of great opportunities for fun, but I chose to listen and to do what my wisest self told me to do. And you know what? It wasn’t easy, but it was good.

Have you done something new today?

Day 39 & 40: Restaurant Request and Henhouse Concert

One New Thing on Saturday was quick, but not easy. Now that I’m fermenting stuff, I suddenly find myself in need of large fermenting containers. I had to wait to make the kombucha until I had a large enough jar – five liters, that was. But that jar and the smaller one I got at the same time were both full within days, and since these things have to brew for a while, I was S.O.L. Also, it’s one thing to buy a jar or two, but more? That could get expensive in a hurry. So I decided to see if I could get used containers from a local restaurant.
I decided to go to a Mexican restaurant I used to hang out at (okay, in the bar. . .), because I knew the owner/bartender and thought he’d be cool with it. Thus, while I was intimidated, I wasn’t too chicken to go at all. Hmmm, I guess it’s been too long since those days, because he wasn’t exactly either welcoming or cordial (maybe if I’d ordered a drink first). So, that was a “no.” Really? They don’t get any food delivered in gallon or larger jars or buckets? Go figure.

So I had done it, my One New Thing for the day. The challenge was satisfied, but I wasn’t. And having survived that experience on Saturday, I now have enough courage that I was able to call our local Red Robin today and ask the same question. I spoke with Mark, who was super friendly and obliging. Yes, of course, they do get large containers, and he’d be happy to set some aside for me. Yay! My newest obsession can continue!

By the way, since I’m always trying new ginger ales I hate to count that as an ONT all by itself. However, I tried one on Saturday that was better than I’ve been getting lately. Nice burn! It was a little more sour than I prefer, but I did like that heat. And sitting in the back of my fridge is one for another day that I’m very excited about; it actually warns: “HOT!”, right on the label. Sounds like my kind of ginger ale!


Last week while I was at the library, I looked at their poster wall to see if there were any good events coming up that I could use. Oh, yeah: what a great resource! So yesterday I pulled on a skirt and my fancy new rain-boots and headed back to the library for a concert: Sherry Austin with Henhouse: “Gritty Folk with a Bit of Twang.” It was so much fun! First off, this is totally not the kind of thing I would normally go to; that whole “twang” word would scare me off, for sure. But I was nicely surprised. They had beautiful harmonies, and not once was I tempted to holler “YEEEHaw!”
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Here’s a picture of Sharon Allen by herself. She looked kind of goofy in the group pictures, so she gets her own alone.
I videoed four of their songs. Unfortunately, I’ve spent literally hours uploading them to this page, and though they say they’ve uploaded, nothing shows up but a big blank space. So if you’d like to hear what this charming group sounds like, you’ll have to follow the link above and investigate it for yourself.

Enjoying myself during the music wasn’t the best part, though. I also met someone who I think might turn out to be a friend. We talked for a little while, and he was excited about my “One New Thing every day for a year” commit-ment. He’s at a place in his life where he’s doing new things all the time, and the idea that someone else is aggressively embracing that is pretty exciting for him. We’re already talking about doing some of our New Things together. 


Have you done something new today?