Monday, June 3, 2013

Legomania and Buried Treasure

This is a departure from a typical Farm Girl Blog post. I am usually sharing my enthusiasm for tasty, healthy, fresh food creations and the images related to that. Any of my regular followers have noticed that I have slowed waaaaaay down on my posting schedule. When I began this blog over a year and a half ago I did so with unclear intentions but much enthusiasm. I posted two or sometimes three times a week. It felt like such a wonderful outlet for some of my creative energy. That is one thing that has come into sharp focus to me in recent years: I am at my best and happiest when I am CREATING; whatever form that might take. I don't expect a big upswing in activity on the blog any time soon. I have had a great time with it! I already find myself referring to it for my own recipes! I still do enjoy putting together posts and anticipate posting occasionally as the mood/inspiration strikes.
The absolute best, most amazing, wonderful creation of my life, is our son. He is seven years old now and all boy. For a couple of years there, he was our little pirate. He lived and breathed for anything related to pirates. He dressed like a pirate and spoke like a pirate. He memorized Treasure Island. He drew treasure maps and made our furniture into pirate ships. He even designed and built a real pirate boat and took it out onto the water of our local creek.

A couple of days ago I dug a hole in the ground in order to plant an English lavender start I got from the nursery. I was almost to the bottom of my hole when I caught a glimpse of something shiny in the dirt! Treasure!! What a surprise! I kept digging and more and more treasure revealed itself. Forgotten buried treasure from the precious days (years) we lived with a little pirate. The memories came flooding back. Here are a few photos:
We took him to see the tall ship that was used to film the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' when it visited Bodega Bay.
His own homebuilt pirate craft.
His treasure chest and best pirate scowl.
Those are peg-legs in case you were wondering.
Then one day without warning his pirate passion vanished, replaced by LEGOMANIA. Yes, my son is a legomaniac. If this word is not in the dictionary, it should be. I know there must be thousands and thousands of children that could be diagnosed with this particular condition. The two main drivers of this phenomenon, as I see it, are the ingenious marketing strategies by the Lego company and the fact that Legos are awesome.

Legos are taking over our house. The photos below really don't capture the extent of it. I have surrendered for the time being. Every available flat surface is used to create ever-changing and evolving Lego scenes. The boy dreams about new sets he may one day acquire. He is lost for hours at a time while implementing a new idea, adding homemade embellishments to round out his vision. We embraced and indulged our pirate when we had him. Now we are doing the same for the legomaniac. I wonder what will be next?

Clearly my son is also content when he is creating things.

Till next time......

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Yoga Retreat and Fun with Chives!

Enlightened figs basking in the glory of their existence

Reincarnated fire finding inner peace in the form of these magnificent leaves
with outstretched fingers embracing the light 

For Mother's Day weekend I got to go on a yoga retreat. (Retreat: a quiet or secluded place in which one can rest and relax.) Well, the wake up gong sounded at 6AM so.......  But no, all the many activities available to you from 6:30AM till 9PM were optional, so it was as intensive or relaxing as you chose.

For example, at one point the friend that I went on the retreat with decided to participate in a two hour meditation class (she didn't know it was going to last 2 hours) while I decided to do a 5 mile exploratory walk on my own. It was on this walk that I took the two photos above along with many others. I returned sweaty but relaxed and rejuvenated just in time to see her staggering out of one of the buildings. "Where are you headed? What are you doing?" I asked. "The class just finished! I am exhausted. I need to lie down," she moaned. I knew then that I had taken the easier path even if it was 5 miles longer.

But if you are serious about connecting with God or the cosmic vibrations of the universe sometimes you need to work for it. One of the residents of the spiritual village who we ate a couple of our meals with, had made a vow of Total Renunciation! "Wow, what is total renunciation?" I wanted to know. There were different levels of renunciation with "total", of course, being the most extreme. It was, she explained, renunciation of the ego itself. (That is in addition to no sex, no marriage, no alcohol, and Shiva knows what else.) She told us that she spends 24 hours each week sitting in silent meditation.

We did yoga postures, we chanted, we meditated. We picked and chose the nuggets of spirituality that resonated with us and left the rest to the more devout.

The food they offered was vegetarian and delicious. When I told the staff upon arrival that I ate a gluten-free diet they didn't bat an eye. They cook almost completely gluten-free and always present gluten-free options. It is their standard operating procedure. So that was easy.

The grounds were bursting with flowers and buzzing with bees and song birds. I do believe I left with a more energized spine and an open heart.

Back at home the chives are doing their mad-chive thing. I had just been saying how you can only use so many chives...... But then, yesterday I made chive pesto and now I am not sure if I have enough chives! Why didn't I think of doing that sooner? All these years I've been under utilizing them although I sure do enjoy their blossoms in the garden.

Last summer I posted a recipe for arugula pesto which we enjoyed all through the winter as I froze quite a bit. The following chive pesto recipe follows a similar formula. Herb, nut, cheese, oil, basically. Once you know how to make pesto, you can make it with many things in many variations.
Chive Pesto
4 cups of roughly chopped chive greens
1/2 cup raw cashew nuts
1 clove of garlic
1 to 2 oz. of dry cheese cut in chunks (I used an aged manchego)
1/4 to 1/2 cup of olive oil (depending on the consistency you like)
salt to taste
Place garlic, cashews, and cheese in a food processor and process until crumbly. Add the chives and the oil and process again until it looks like pesto. Open the lid and scrape down the sides with a flexible spatula and sprinkle in some salt. Blend again. Adjust salt and oil to your preference. Done! Try it on fish. We had it on oysters last night. So good.

I also filled a jar with chive blossoms and covered them with white wine vinegar to infuse in the sun. Oh what fun!

Enjoy!!! Namaste.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Images of Seattle

Okay, so listen. We were invited to a wedding in Seattle set for March 23, 2013. My husband's cousin's wedding. At first I was excited because the default mode of my life is to be super-zealous about travel. But as the date grew nearer I began to have doubts about the trip. Really? This seems like a lot of planning and logistics and expense just to attend a wedding for a few hours......  I was also cursed with that feeling of "NAMELESS DREAD" (anxiety disorder that affects many [especially those with small children] but usually not me). I was sure that if we went either: a) the plane would crash b) our precious son would be run over by a bus in the city c) our precious son would be recalcitrant (OMG, I love that word. So glad I have the opportunity to use it.) and it would be pouring rain constantly.

Well, guess what? We went, we are back, we are well. The plane didn't crash. The public transportation system ran like clockwork. The wedding was lovely. Our son was my hero once again. The city was dynamic, pulsing with energy and creativity. And the sun made an appearance every single day of the five days we spent there. I also might add that the whole trip was energizing at the same time that it took a lot of energy.

One of my dearest friends here in Quincy asked me, upon my return, what I liked best about Seattle. Caught off-guard by the question, (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that type of question by the way), I blurted out: "the sky". The weather and the sky were so dynamic, I explained. It was constantly changing, in constant motion. And the Seattlites are out in it. And so were we. Our hotel, north of the downtown, was a block away from a walking bridge that led to the waterfront. There were two paved paths running for miles in either direction; one for walkers and joggers and one for cyclists. Oh, the infastructure! The socialism of it all!

Upon further reflection, I realized that another of my favorite things about Seattle was that art and creativity abounded. I am including just 12 of the 190 photos I took on our trip. I hope that it is not too many. I know how too many images, too much clutter, can obscure the sublime beauty that can be found in a single perfect moment or object or image. 

Yeah, like I said, "the sky"
Are you guys familiar with Frank Gehry, the architect? If not, you should be. Read about him and see some of his work here. We have visited only two of his many architectural wonders. The EMP (Experience Music Project) museum is in Seattle near the famous Space Needle. I couldn't stop taking pictures of it.
  Industry, Art, Motion. These are the things I loved. There were ships and tugboats so busy....
Shapes, images, art, new and old....

This is my favorite photo of the whole trip. I will enter it
in our county fair art show this summer.

With love and a renewed enthusiasm for travel........

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

It's Spring. Aren't You Glad?!

Yes! Spring is here and we are ever so glad! Marvelous signs of spring abound.

In other news, the World Championship Longboard Races were held here in Plumas County on Sunday, March 17th. After many years of hard work, close calls, and near misses, husband Craig made it to the World Championship podium placing third out of a field of 28 men. He is wearing the green bandana around his neck for St. Patrick's Day. It was a fun-filled day for all.
Our family is now headed to Seattle, WA. We will attend a wedding on Saturday in this hip looking venue: Georgetown Ballroom. Wish us small town kids luck in the big city!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sweet Pepper Hummus

Aren't those pretty?
Good day to you! There is Spring in the air here even as there is still snow lingering in the back yard from December storms. All kinds of birds not seen since last year have arrived in Quincy from hither and yon in the past week!

I couldn't resist the colors of a big bag of sweet peppers I saw at the grocery store, even though the food miles on them were many. Most I used in a Thai coconut curry fish dish but the rest were roasted and pureed with chickpeas to create a super tasty, sweet hummus dip. I used a can of organic cooked garbanzos so this was a snap. I love my food processor!
To make:
Toss 10 small sweet peppers in some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place in pan and roast at 375° for 20 minutes or until tender. Let cool a bit. Pull off the tops and swipe the majority of the seeds out of the inside of the peppers with your finger. Leave skins on. Place a small clove of garlic into a food processor and whirl a few times to chop. Add roasted peppers. Whirl again. Add a can of garbanzos lightly drained, a glug of olive oil and a few shakes of red wine vinegar. Whirl again. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Yippee! Our egg farmer's chickens are feeling the spring weather too.
Now we have rich orange-yolked eggs again!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Crazy for Bowls!

A sample of the results of my bowl-making fixation
I love ceramic bowls. When I lived in South Lake Tahoe there was a great ceramics studio at the local community college. For the last couple years that we lived there, my husband and I enrolled in a class every quarter. Our relationship was just blossoming and our time together in the pottery studio brings back fond memories. Almost a dozen years ago already!
circa 2002
There we are. Fresh and full of youthful innocence and love for clay and one another! Once I started making bowls, I could not stop. Note that I am working on a bowl in the photo. I snapped the above photo with my digital camera of a page from a photo album. The original photos were taken using film (a thin flexible strip of plastic coated with light-sensitive emulsion for exposure in a camera) before we owned a digital camera. Man, we've been together, like, forever!  ;-)

Our ceramic courtship ended abruptly when we moved from South Lake Tahoe to Quincy. While the small town of Quincy is blessed with a community college all its own, it unfortunately lacks a ceramic studio and all clay-art options.

In some ways it is just as well. Our cupboards and counters are full of our handmade plates, platters, mugs, lidded jars, and bowls. Especially bowls! And how many bowls does one really need?

Well, a few months ago, over Thanksgiving holiday, I decided maybe our home could accommodate one more bowl. 

One of our longtime, dear family friends is an accomplished potter. She has been working with clay for something like 60 years! Her name is Mardi Wood and she rocks the house. The weekend after Thanksgiving my parents, husband, son and I piled into the Prius and took the windy, breathtaking drive down Hwy. 1 from their farm to the not-so-hidden hamlet of Bolinas, Ca. Mardi was having an open studio along with numerous other artists who make their home in this unincorporated coastal community of Marin County. We did not have time to visit other studios but she was in good company: check out the studio tour webpage here. She is number 17. You can also view photos of her work on her website here.

Her work makes mine look as clunky and rudimentary as it is. She works in porcelain and some of her pieces are nearly paper thin. Many of her pieces are adorned with sketches of these regal long-horned cows that she grew to love in the Italian countryside. I love what she has to say about these cows. As taken directly from her website, let me share:

To tell a story through an use its story as part of an ancient narrative...while at the same time bringing to mind today's plight of our “engineered” cattle, their disguised flesh wrapped in plastic at our supermarket meat counters...I want to reveal ancient truths...visual stories of the ancient auroch of prehistoric caves, of the sacred and revered cow of pagan myth, the giver of milk and nourishment to man, of the Sumerian epic story of Gilgamesh whose mother was ‘Lady Wild Cow’...of the bull with great horns over which ancient Crete athletes vaulted and summersaulted...of the Maremma cattle still carrying the genes of prehistoric cattle and still revered by Italians as ‘tradizione’...of the poem, “Il Bove”, by Nobel prize honored poet, Carducci,..still studied by Italian school children...of the imagery of long horned cattle pulling the fine carts of Etruscans and Romans depicted on their ceramic forms... and later pulling the farmer’s plough...before tractors...I draw these animals who still forage in their native environment in the Maremma country of Italy.

believe someone bought this piece while we were there. It is an example of one of her cow images and way out of my price range!

The little bowl I fell in love with is the color of honey, mead, the desert, a sunrise, Tuscany, antique paper, tanned flesh, and the warmth of a late summer afternoon........... It is similar to the one on the right in this photo and as you can see below. It was the glaze I was first drawn to but I also appreciate the feel of its conical shape and sturdy lightness in my hands. 

This special little bowl has been a welcome addition to our colorful bowl collection. Yay for functional art! It now graces our table and makes me smile.
Lastly, a photo of my two other treasured Mardi Wood creations.