Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dippy Thoughts

Oh, the wind is in the canyon, and the redwood sirens wail
In their massive lamentations as we swing along the trail,
While the purple shadows muster like ambassadors of the night
Where the glooming mountain lingers like a phantom on the right.

Oh, we pull across the ridges and salute the lone pine-tree
Where it watches like a sentinel above the western sea,
And Bolinas waits below us at the finish of the run
And we see the water glaring as it fuses with the sun.

Oh, we see the boasting breakers come a-sprawling on the sand,
Like some endless game of ten-pins played by Neptune's mighty hand,
And the sky is like a vision as the evening star ascends,
Like a phoenix from the sunset where the ash of evening blends.

Oh, there's nothing like the tonic of the rolling Dipsea Trail,
For we breathe its boundless spirit and the world's distortions pale
while we feel the red blood pulsing as it hits a swifter pace
Like a wild thing loosed to the circle in the rapture of the race.
-The Dipsea Trail, by Waldeman Young

I am not like this. I do not think this way. I am not competitive, I am meditative. I am a lover, not a fighter! And yet, deep within me something has stirred and demanded my attention. I want to run in a competitive race this year. I plan to run in a competitive race this year. I plan on not only living through this, but also enjoying it as a right of passage to a more confident me.

And I think I can do it.

It is all my neighbor's fault. Since She became my neighbor, we discovered our mutual interest in running. She runs regularly and competitively. I wasn't at the time, I was walking/hiking regularly and She inspired me to start running again.

Then She upped the ante and got me to do what I have long shyed away from--running with another person. I have always avoided running with others, always afraid of my ability, of conversation. It dates back to an ill thought out agreement to running with an old friend who ran, literally, circles around me. I have been gun shy ever since.

But I went out on a limb because I really like my neighbor and want to be friends. And I loved it. It was so much easier to run with someone. The time flew by, it was fun, and we got to get to know each other better, I repeat, it was FUN! I could hardly believe.

So when my neighbor invited me to beginning training with Her for the Dipsea run, a big deal run here in my neck of the woods, I surprised myself by going.

By starting.

I told myself I would just train with Her as a goal, perhaps run the route by myself at the end instead of joining the race.

But the bug has bit me and I am committing. I am unsure if I will get in, lots of people try and its hard to get in, but I will try and run the route in June either way. I want to challenge myself, push myself and see my body respond. I want my family and friends to be proud of me and my abilities. But most especially, I want to set a good example for my daughter. I want to show her what a strong woman is and what a strong woman can do. I want to be that for my daughter. So I'd better get strong!!!

Thank you for inspiring me, my dear over-the-fence friend!

Friday, January 23, 2009

This Beautiful Life

Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.
-Elizabeth Stone

Babou is deep in the process of discovering and developing her will. And, not surprisingly, it is quite a little force of nature; a squall in the domestic scene.

Yesterday was one of those days that was an extreme test of patience for me. It had finally started raining after a two week dry spell; I was happy it was raining and geared us all up to go to the park and grocery store. Loco O. needed to run and I thought it would be a fun little adventure.

It was not.

Between the dog pulling me one way and the baby pulling me another or, worse, refusing to hold my hand as we traversed busy streets, I thought I was literally going to come out of my skin. The grocery store was worse; she couldn't be in the cart because her rain boots kept falling off so she had to walk with me through the store and that was just way too much fun for her and way too much for me.

When I finally got home, I spent her nap time engrossed in the Sears book entitled "Discipline." It gave me some good ideas and I gave the afternoon and Babou a fresh start.

I don't know if it was the ideas in the Sear's book, or if it was the act of trying to work with Babou but either way the afternoon and evening were a much different story, a much nicer story illustrated with cooperation!

Later that evening, as I was getting ready to put her to bed, I noticed that she was already in bed. She had her doll and was tucking the blankets up around its neck and was giving it a kiss goodnight. She then gave it a squeeze and wiggled her index finger at it and said, very authoritatively, "seepy seepy!" My heart almost burst and I promised myself then and there to always cherish every moment...even the trying ones.

*Note on previous post: I am not that far ahead in my garden, trust me, the pictures that accompany the previous blog were from last April. I love looking at them and thinking of spring. The picture of Babou cracks me up because she look like some cowboy out checking out the back forty!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Growing Gardens and Babies

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Busy last few days with Diver/Mr. Jo/my husband returning home for the weekend, mother-in-law visit, and inauguration day fixation. I literally could not remove myself from my television screen. It was so exciting, so monumental, so dignified, and so profound. So inspiring.

I've been working a lot in the garden trying to get my flower beds ready for more planting. All my bulbs are up so I know where they are to plant some larger flowers. I am trying to kind of create a perennial structure to my flower beds that will be it's mainstay and then I can sort of accessorize with annuals. I had been replanting the whole thing every year but between the vegetable garden and the flowers beds, I don't have the time anymore. So this way I can just do some fun periphery annual plantings every spring and focus most of my attention on the vegetable garden.

I am really excited about my vegetable garden this year. I am planting almost exclusively heirloom varieties, and have been working compost in throughout the year, just digging in whatever kitchen scraps I have available. Nothing too scientific.

The plan is to rent a rototiller this weekend and dig in some fertilizer, We have never done this so I am hoping this will add yet another dimension of growth to our garden. There is just something so amazing about having this little oasis of a backyard. It makes me so happy. And Babou loves it too!

But she has been a little bit of a pain lately with it running through the flower beds breaking bulbs and smashing seedlings. Does anyone else have this problem and come to a conclusion? I want the garden to be hers too but don't know how to keep her out of it during the delicate stages? Any words of wisdom? Ideas? So far I have been yelling "NONONONO" and physically taking her out of the space and trying to give her her own little place and tools to work while I work. That lasts about one minute before she is back. Aiii! All advice welcome! Thank you!

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Creek

Meaning, moods, the whole scale of our inner experience, finds in nature "the correspondences" through which we may know our boundless selves.
-Kathleen Raine

Thinking about my growing years and what they have meant to me, I have found that I keep coming back to the same genesis, the same background that has influenced my life the most: nature.

Growing up by a creek and close to the ocean has profoundly colored the way in which I perceive the world. Our home was (and is) filled with windows, often open, overlooking the creek below. I was born in that home overlooking the creek, at sunrise. It was my first view, my first baptism, and the heart of my life for many years.

My activities were predicated on the rise and fall of its water, each season bringing its own wonders. We used to swim in the creek; sometimes innertubing down when it was high enough, later in the season, having to crush through thick, green stalks of watercress scenting the ride and our skin.

We would spend hours immersed in its glories, smells, and mysteries. We would sculpt figures from its clay banks. I can still remember exactly its smell and feel. That good, squishy kind of clay that escapes between your fingers. Wonderfully gooey.

We would lay on the beach and build homes and roads through the sands. I would always add an abalone shell pool. I loved the irredescent glint of its sheen, so much like that of water itself.

Later in the year, the santa ana winds would come. They always seemed to begin just before the darkness had begun to thin. Awakening to the change, I remember once dragging my sleeping bag outside onto the porch to feel the wonder of its warm charm. The smell of distant places whispering through its breeze. The excitement of knowing that it would be warm at the beach that day.

Everything seems different when those winds come. You feel different; freer. The creek takes on a different air during those winds, just as a woman changing out of day clothes and into something a little flashier, a little more daring. I relished the dusty wind throwing its pollen and pampas grass fluff.

The fall and winter would come bringing its more sober air. This was the hardest time of the year, the part when we couldn't play in the creek. But the smells were no less enchanting as we visited the flood stained waters checking for signs of clearing. The muddy scent of possibility. We spent hours upon hours with that creek. I knew it intimately, like an old friend.

And it was truly my first friend. It is a part of my soul; a part of me. It taught me that everything has a soul, perhaps most especially plants and animals and ecosystems. It also taught me that life is much grander than we can ever know, and that perhaps it is not for us to know. That there are mysteries embedded in mysteries and that paradox is the energy upon which we exist.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

An Award...FOR ME!

I am so excited to annouce that I have received an award from my dear friend and former colleague, T, who writes a fascinating blog about the many adventures of her very interesting life, . I have written about her before and am absolutely so pleased that she chose me for a blogging award. This is the first award I have ever received--so you can imagine my surprise and delight! Thank you, T!

"This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day. The rules to follow are:
1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person that has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2) Pass the award to other blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen for this award."

So here are my daily reads that I am passing the award onto...(I would of course add "T" but she was already given the award):

My dear sis, Mary Alice,, who thinks A LOT and it's always interesting, eloquent, and very often hilarious!

Hen,, who is a gifted writer, funny as they come, and a who has become a wonderful friend

Yo,, who keeps me laughing and up-to-date. Very busy and fun young lady. I would like to be like Yo when I grow up!

Green Girl in Wisconsin,, is one of the hippest ladies I read. She keeps me coming back for her take on life. A good brand of commense sense, fun, and adventure with her Team Testosterone. She also keeps me up-to-date on living eco minded with her and her blogging friends awesomely informative blog That I LOVE to read. These eco-women keep me inspired and informed.

Ophelia Rising,, is my soulmate, I swear. I admire her writing and style greatly. Beautiful, thoughtful, and candid. She is one amazing lady.

And the last one goes to my private blog friend--you know who you are and I miss your thoughts!

Thank you for the award and thank you to my blogging friends one and all!

PS Sorry about the links unactive, of course today would be the day my computer gets fussy and won't link!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Poetics of Privacy

Everything in life that we really accept undergoes a change.
-Katherine Mansfield

So I have been trying to come up with some reflection on my past and how it has effected my present, inspired by the movie "Surfwise" and its resultant musings. And I did come up with something. A very long something that only begged to be longer. I started with a brief history, a foreword, so to speak, and planned on continuing it with more in depth still shots of various important parts in need of expansion.

The problem is that it is really a tale that is multigenerational. Growing up we lived in a present heavily perfumed by the past, ghosts seemed present in every exchange. My story is interwoven into the stories of my sisters and brothers, my mother and father, and of their families. I do not exist apart, no matter the framework you construct with which to view.

I am not a moderate person. I believe in the truth and in a sort of all out way of living life. Because of the way I am it is pretty much impossible for me to tell my story because if I did it would be too candid and, while a lot of my upbringing was positive, a lot of it was not and I cannot gloss over it. I can't out of respect for myself. I am going to try to find a way to write something honest and yet balanced.

I apologize for the Zen Koan nature of this entry but this is my legacy; I was born into a Koan of a family, my fetal body forming the shape of a question mark before my mind could form the question.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Day of Transition

The unexamined life is not worth living.

Finally starting to feel better after a serious bout with a tenacious cold. Still tired and basically run down, however. Mr. Jo is working out of town this week, he left early this morning, and when I say early, I mean EARLY like 3 am early.

I also restarted the "baby exchange" I do with my old neighbor today, and consequently spent most of my morning and early afternoon attending to two two-year-olds--fun but exhausting.

So I am feeling sort of hum drum today. I always get a little sad the first day Diver leaves for a job, it's just transitioning to being alone again. He works out of town more often than not but it is still a transition every time he comes comes and goes.

On the positive side, I usually take the time to focus on my writing, keeping more on track with healthier, more vegetarian meals, and in general getting lots of stuff accomplished since I am not as distracted with as much cooking, cleaning and laundry.

But I am usually pretty lonely and sad the first day he goes. So that is where I am. I am trying to not let it get to me, nor try to force myself to do too much but rather sort of let the day be as it will be, a day of transition.

Tomorrow I am planning on writing about my experiences growing up, sort of paralleling Mary Alice's. I think looking at an experience through different eyes gives a balance and body to memory and reality. It sort of pains me to write about it because I think sometimes that if you dwell too much on the past you are giving it too much power. But I also recognize that there have been one too many synchronicities that have called upon us to reflect on our experiences. Pasts unexamined can sometimes have just as much a pull backwards as those too much dwelled upon.

So I will be posting that tomorrow morning and hopefully I can shed some light on my own experience. Self reflection is sometimes a double edged sword and I hope I can achieve a balance.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The best cheesecake recipe EVER

No one who cooks cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.
-Laurie Colwin

I am still in the grips of a serious cold, the kind of cold that actually slows the brain cells from communicating with one another. Yes, one of those. And Babou is decidedly unsick, decidely energetic, and decidely bored of being in the house.

So I have decided not to write much today but rather pass on something I believe to be of high value, my really good cheesecake recipe. It is not only tasty, but really easy; I think that makes it one of the best cheesecake recipes I have yet to find.

You see my husband's favorite dessert is cheesecake, and he asks for one every year for his birthday cake. This year we have been together 11 years so you see that I have baked a lot of cheesecakes. I have tried different recipes almost every year. But last year I tried the following one and it was so easy and so good I have given up my search.

So without further it is!

Montana's Mom's Dynamite Cheesecake

"Loved by millions from coast to coast."

oven 375°

crumbs from 16 graham crackers
1/2 stick of butter (melted)
1 tbs. honey
1 tbs. flour
mush up with fingers and press firmly into bottom of a spring form pan.

16 oz cream cheese
1/3 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 lemon: juice and grated rind
blend till smooth and creamy. Pour on top of crust and bake for 25 minutes - or until set at 375°


1 pt. sour cream (16 oz)
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Blend. Pour on top of cooled filling and bake at 375° for 5-8 minutes.

Cheesecake must set in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours before it will be firm enough to slice well. If you get impatient and cut before it is completely set, the top will be runny.

This recipe can be found in the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen, page 187.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Surfwise? Surfdumb? Serfdom?

“Your parents would have said, you can go to school because it’s safe, but don’t go swimming with sharks ‘cause it’s dangerous. Our parents said, well you can go swimming with sharks but you’re not going to school ‘cause that's just dangerous.”

Yesterday dawned rainy and remained that way for its duration. A sort of soft, silent, ever present dripping from the sky. I am catching a cold and feeling tired, as is Babou, so we decided it would be a perfect movie night. My husband got one more to his tune and I got one more to my tune.

But the one my husband chose turned out to be the more interesting and actually had me up for most of the night thinking. It is the first time I have ever seen anything close to the way I grew up.

The movie, "Surfwise," is a film about Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz and his legendary surf family. Paskowitz left a successful medical practice, after the failure of his second marriage, to find himself and develop his own philosophy of life.

This was during a moment in time rife with finding yourself and with the pursuit of individual happiness--post world war II America. The time of the Bohemian and the Bon Vivant, of Jack Kerouac and the birth of the Aquarian Age. A moment ripe with opportunity for alternative lifestyles.

Paskowitz married a like-minded woman and they set about making babies with alarming speed and making their home in vehicles. They end up with nine children and living in a 24 foot trailer. They move from place to place, camping and making do; the father believing in living in a survival state at all times.

Paskowitz believes that we have lost our essential animal nature, our grace, and develops a philosophy that he believes will return himself and others to their natural state of "superior health." Animals are not educated, they have to fight for their food every day, they don't stay put and collect "things." So money was taboo as was stability as well as education.

Although Paskowitz was a Stanford educated doctor.

The fallout from this upbringing is then recorded as each child, as an adult, talks about the experience. All of them have been crippled by it in varying degrees. It is as though their experience growing up was so intense that it has overpowered the rest of their lives. Their father did not prepare them to live in the mainstream, if he had his way they would all still be living in that 24 foot trailer.

One son's dream was to become a doctor. Upon seeing a counselor and realizing he was 10 years behind scholastically, he abandoned that dream. One son has nothing but animosity for his father, all of them battled merging with the main. All of them are successful. Most of them are artists.

My father was very similar to this man; similar in age, similar in the full embrace of the Bon Vivant and Bohemian lifestyle. He also came out of failed marriages wanting to escape while believing that family was the only thing that mattered.

We were brought up without any formal education, moving about a lot, and living in a VW bus for just a bit too long. He was also charismatic and used his charms to create an aura of sort of spiritual reverence. People loved my dad, thought he was so cool to be living this life in which you don't worry about money or possessions, that art and family is all. That one should be content to watch the grass grow. That one should never leave home or become part of the insanity of society.

I think both Doc Paskowitz and my father felt they were giving their children something no other children were given, the freedom to explore and learn naturally. But I also think that in essence they used their children for their own self-serving ends--wanting to escape society; create a family in which they "rule."

I think in trying to escape and be free they only succeeded in imprisoning themselves and their families with just an alternate set of rules. They imprisoned their children in self created dictatorships knowing the best way to keep loyalty is to keep the environment controlled and not to allow education. In reality there was no freedom, for the family or for the father.

Doc Paskowitz says in the movie that he wanted his children to know the difference between education and knowledge--he wanted them to have knowledge. But he trapped them in that you can only know the difference between the two if you are educated.

Everyone grows up in different ways, but some are more extreme than others and this just makes you who you are meant to be. I do not regret the way I grew up because I do not regret who I am today. But I think there is a way to be a free thinker and to let your children be free thinkers without shunning society.

That is my philosophy.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Road trip

"One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things."
-Henry Miller

In our continuing battle against winter ennui, complete in its depressing and stagnant garb, we decided to take a mini road trip this weekend. The weather was actually quite clear and pretty, not to be confused with warm, but clear and pretty, as we headed out of town to visit Half Moon Bay.

Half Moon Bay is just south of San Francisco about 25 miles, but feels truly worlds away. You get the sense of a small beach town, driven by fishing and surfing and, of course, tourism. The town fringes a beautifully calm, crescent shaped bay that is its namesake.

Maverick's, the world class and VERY dangerous surf spot, lies to the north of town and, in the fullest part of the circle, white and black expanses of beach are tidily lodged between breaking surf and the rocky embankment of Highway One. Heading north of town to Mavericks, you pass through the more broken down part of town, the part you could see the Cannery Row crew happily inhabiting.

I appreciated how closely the obvious tourist part of town and the more realistic parts coexisted. Being from a small fishing, surfing and tourist driven town in California, this suited my sensibilities; to see both so readily.

We ate at the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. This place was pretty cool with a nice outdoor fire going and dog friendly patio. The inside was equally rustic and yet cozy with the fishing and surfing theme encoded in the dark woody interior complete with roaring fire, pictures of those braving mavericks gracing the walls, and a huge fish tank that kept Babou still for about five minutes!

We shared the fresh seafood appetizer; a succulent little (and I do mean little) selection of ceviche and ahi poki served with tortilla chips and fried won ton wrappers respectively. There was also a little dish of mango salsa served off to the side that was very refreshing and simple and sort of extraneous, I would have switched that for extra ceviche and ahi poki before you could say "Babou sit down!"

That said, it was very kid friendly and the food was tasty. We spent the rest of our visit playing on the beach. Loco O. liked it a lot and actually braved the waters!

And Babou kept us busy keeping her out of it!

The drive home was beautiful, the sun setting in a golden blue puddle to our west. We got back feeling good to be home and decidedly still hungry. So we made ourselves a huge batch of ceviche and fried up an indecent amount of corn chips and ate to our hearts content.

It was good to be home.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Marley and Me and Us

"Trying to have a baby? Did you pull the goalie?"
-Marley and Me

Last night was date night. We haven't had one in a loooong time and were in definite need. The last week has not gotten much better than my last entry--worse really. Just a tough week.

So we thought we would take some time together and see a movie. My husband's mom had said she had seen Marley and Me and thought it was hilarious (with a capital "H") and that it was completely my husband and my story.

That in mind, and needing to find some humor in the craziness of our life, we set out for dinner and a movie.

Maybe it is because our life so paralleled theirs, but it just hit too close to home and we were both teary eyed leaving the theater.

Dinner afterward was awkward. It was actually as though some of our fights and "conversations" had been recorded and played back to us. Very uncomfortable and not as funny as I had hoped.

This part really hit home for me. It was the part in which Jennifer Anniston speaks about having given up so much having children, how she feels like a bad parent for thinking that way and yet it is truly how she feels while she acknowledges her decision to have them.

That it's just hard and nothing can prepare you for how hard.

This is so true, I felt. No one can prepare you for how hard or how wonderful. How these things are often just two sides to the coin of life. That one makes sense of the other.

After some awkward silences over our sushi, my dear husband finally brightened and said, "Well, at least now we know we're normal!"

So true. In an odd way the film was validating and liberating. Seeing it on the big screen may have made it just too real. But no one is immune to the changes parents go through as they move from individuals to a family (of individuals).

At least now we know we're normal.