04 December 2010

down to kihei

There's so much to share about our recent trip to Maui, that I'm going just keep posting segments until I feel complete. I hope you enjoy the slow journey around the island with me.

On anniversary Wednesday, my horoscope in the Honolulu Star-Adviser said "The world is your oyster." The exact words my high school counselor, Mr. Bononi, used when we were reviewing my aptitude tests. I could have benefited from some concrete advice about college funding, but really, it's a nice timeless blessing, and has turned out to be true.

After driving between double rainbows on our way to Kihei, via Kahului, we made a nice connection with Johanna for yoga at the beach, swam at Kamaole and Big Beach, stopped off at Joy's Place where we were greeted warmly by Jimmy's radiant smile! Perched on a stool with our chili, hummus wrap, and thai mushroom soup, I spotted a Green Anole Lizard out in the bushes. I wasn't able to get a shot of him, but click here for a beautiful photo from another Hawaiian traveler.

Dinner back in Paia at the amazing veggie Vietnamese restaurant Fresh Mint, was spectacular. I am one happily married woman. So much joy!

03 December 2010

haiku in haiku

One morning on our way to Kahului by car, a big vibrant rainbow appeared off to the right, then it split into a double rainbow, and as we drove, we passed between the two arcs. I didn't have my camera but I did have my notebook...

tropical highway
bends between surreal rainbows
sacred mountain breathes

12 November 2010

coconut heaven

With a little help from Matt, we discovered Coconut Glen's at mile marker 27 on the Hana Hwy: Coconut-based ice cream at the friendliest little shack on the island.

The incomparable Glen was on hand for this photo op. His chocolate chili chipotle flavor is incredible! You really have to taste it to believe it.

The lovely Joei served up local passionfruit (Lilikoi) flavor in a coconut half with a green coconut spoon. Everything is fully compostable, so it wasn't a big surprise to find the latest issue of Permaculture Activist magazine on the front counter. Joei is quite the vegan baker too! You can connect with them on Facebook to see how things are progressing with both ventures.

Fresh coconuts, apple bananas and enormous avocadoes make days in Hawaii so sweet!

...and of course, strawberry papayas with a squeeze of lime every morning!

08 November 2010

island anniversary

Celebrating our anniversary in Hawaii was restorative. Our first couple of days we laid low, checking out Haiku and Paia, and walking in the rain. There are quite a few sacred sites on the island. Ram Dass was taking people to see all of them. We visited this Tibetan stupa on our anniversary, and did a clockwise rotation to set positive intentions for our next blissful year.

Vietnamese dinner at Fresh Mint was the best, and I recommend it highly. Everything is totally veg, so no worries about hidden fish sauce! For our anniversary dinner we had Pho noodle soup, fresh salad rolls, mushrooms and green beans. It was fresh and delicate and so good, it was gone before I even thought about taking pictures. The next day, we went back for lunch and had Pad Thai and another delicious noodle dish. Took pictures this time.

In Haiku, we met Claire from the Basque region of France. She made the pretty silver, turquoise, freshwater pearl earrings I'm wearing here.

05 November 2010

discovering maui

What is it about mountains that feel so sacred? Is it that they're reaching for Heaven? We just returned from a beautiful week on Maui, the Hawaiian island formed by Haleakala. We discovered tropical beauty along the Hana Highway, and the mellow, welcoming spirit of Haiku.

The road to Hana takes you right through the middle of lush rain forest. You can see how the road cuts along the green in the background here. Most stunning is the black volcanic rock against the turquoise sea.

A major highlight was meeting Annie, our host at the Haiku Plantation Inn. She was so loving and invested in every guest's comfort and happiness! She had the jacuzzi warmed up and ready for us each night when we came home. Thank you Annie!

15 October 2010

before and after

The breakfast nook was one of our first house projects when I arrived a few years ago. This is the "after" shot.

We removed the built in benches (out of sight in this picture) and installed a breakfast counter overlooking the canyon. Our contractor discovered that the hardwood under the linoleum tiles was in great shape, so we had it restored. There is so much warm wood in this old Craftsman cottage, and the nook feels very cozy now.

The studio really took a lot of work. We started by shoring up the back corner against the fence which had been eroded by a neighbor's fence-building project years earlier. Not an easy thing to lift a building and create a partial foundation with local stone! Then there was an enormous amount of prep before painting, and the result (see last post) is pretty wonderful.

08 October 2010

morning greens

Baby bok choy, plus cabbage, beets, onions, tatsoi, kale, spinach and peas are all loving the greenhouse conditions, as the sun returns after a couple of rainy days.

Doesn't the Sweet Orange Studio look great this morning in our new colors? I'll have to post a "before" picture soon, to give you the full impact of this change.

And speaking of oranges, how about this enthusiastic bunch of tangerines preparing themselves for winter?

07 October 2010

here comes the sun

Solar panels are being installed next door! It's so fantastic to see people wanting to use easily available, truly renewable energy. I'm going to do a happy dance...

09 September 2010

acting again

Our first rehearsal for Penelope's Daughter was this morning. The author, Laurel Corona, is fantastic, as is the director, Katie Rodda! And Casey and Sonia who will share the stage with me are awesome too. It felt really good to be blocking and reviewing lines.

We'll be kicking off the San Diego City College International Book Fair. This literary event is a multi-media extravaganza, with Greek music and mythological images to be projected on the backdrop, dancers and actors giving life to the story, scholarly lecture to introduce the show, and a very lively author to narrate the evening. I have just 10 lines, but they're great lines, spoken as a half-goddess, sorceress, who is (I'm told) powerful, sexy, and fabulous!

31 August 2010

hedgehog potatoes

The potato harvest was smallish, so I decided to make them special. From Super Natural Cooking, I modified the recipe for Baked Purple Hedgehog Potatoes, starting with the obvious fact that these potatoes are not purple.

Harissa is a hot chili condiment in a base of carrot and beet. It's been waiting on the shelf since I brought it home from Northpark Produce, for the day the potatoes were ready. The potatoes are spiked with lots of garlic and harissa before baking.

I used tofu cheese (technique from Real Food Daily) in place of yogurt, added some almond milk and spearmint from the garden, to make the cooling topping.

And here they are!

28 August 2010

house of olive

My view from the Sweet Orange Studio is warming up. I have been thinking of these colors as green olive, espresso, and cherry tomato. They could also be picholine, kalamata, and pimiento... the House of Olive!

I removed the crusty old screens and washed those bedroom windows beyond the umbrella, vacuumed the sills, and cleaned the glass with vinegar/water inside and out. Our bedroom has gone from cave-like to surprisingly bright! I can see the figs and cosmos when I wake up in the morning.

The best thing about all this forward progress is that we're going slow, small and steady. Start with an idea, and work toward a solution without attachment to outcome.

For example, my husband loves color. We inherited a house that was aged white with oxidized teal trim, and not very inspiring to come home to. I tried to embrace the bright orange and turquoise I was sure he would want when we repainted. A Mexican villa could be very cheerful, right? The sun is strong here and subtle color gets lost in the brightness. Then we landed on these colors, which make us both very happy. It took time, and pranayama practice, breathing through the challenging places. This joyful outcome is not what either of us would have predicted.

We both feel much more invested in this shared dwelling. OUR house. He is being very patient with the difficult and long process of scraping away old paint and glazing...and getting really good at it! I love the way he honors his own body and works a little every day, taking breaks when his back says it needs a break. I also love that he's learning new skills and that it's his gift to me.

26 August 2010

la maestra urban garden

This is Irma. She is transforming a city lot into an urban gardening space for people in the City Heights community of San Diego.

La Maestra (which means "the teacher") is doing so many good things for the community, that I won't list them all here, but you can learn more at their website. A beautifully designed new LEED certified building is at the heart of their operation.

And just down the street a little clinic is buzzing with activity.

The big blue house right next door is the site of yet another valuable program, and provides the space for the garden.

The front garden will be filled with flowers and herbs, and maybe a water feature? The design is still developing. Should the design match the style of the house? Or should it be a wild riot of color?

Around the side and back there is room for a dozen individual plots, plus a nice sized space for composting, and a building with two bathrooms and a shower. What a bonus! If gutters were installed on that small building, rainwater harvesting could begin this year.

Irma is gathering resources, seeking assistance from Victory Gardens San Diego, and from the Sophia Circle. The garden is fully fenced and Irma has her soil test back. She has cinder blocks and good organic compost on the way. We will transform this pile of dirt into a lush and productive garden!

22 August 2010


We grew a small cornfield of "Luscious" this year.

Here's a hopeful sprout on June 3.

Looking pretty hardy on June 13. How he's grown in just 10 days!

By July 27 they're all looking strong. Same view, longer shot.

Organic growing results: One-third to the worms, two-thirds to us.

05 August 2010

where did July go?

Just a quick post to remind myself to write a bit. I've been working on some new projects and investing far too much energy in Facebook. Today I revisited some of my favorite blogs here, here and here. Everything in my body is happier with these slower paced one-on-one connections, even in cyberspace.

18 July 2010

giving birth to a dancing star

One must have chaos in oneself in order
to give birth to a dancing star.
[Friedrich Nietzsche]

Learning permaculture protocols for designing human settlements is broad and all-encompassing, and simple as well. I'm unlearning a lot of my old favorite gardening techniques that have created visual peace and order, and embracing more natural patterns and techniques that actually open up more productive time and space. It's a new take on Zen.

I haven't even fully unpacked from last weekend in Costa Mesa and have had two more seriously mind-expanding experiences this week.

A circle of nine women traveled out to Lake Henshaw for a day on the Double "J" Ranch on Wednesday. In a gazebo overlooking the lake, surrounded by free ranging horses, goats, chickens and dogs we connected and sent our deepest wishes for harmony with the natural world, for clear energy, and for open hearts. We trekked through the woods for a shared lunch under the oaks, and walked the perimeter of the nine-pointed Earth Star labyrinth. The silence and beauty at the base of Palomar Mountain is powerful, and the silence and beauty within each of my Sophia Sisters is positively glowing! Many thanks to Amanda and to our guide Jana, for facilitating the birth of dancing stars.

Yesterday I journeyed to the Tijuana Estuary in Imperial Beach via lovely Coronado Island to hear a talk by UCSD's Teddy Cruz. With the eye of an artist, he had a wonderful way of using provocative headlines and visual images to explore the flows and relationships between San Diego and Tijuana, through the "forensics of urbanism". Walking us along the border fence (with various maps and photos) observing the informal structures of Tijuana, he suggested that Density could be a measure of social exchange or level of collaboration, and that informal energies could be translated into economic value. We could view each parcel (each human settlement) as a small socio-economic system, where Democracy is redefined as the ability and willingness to coexist with others.

What if the border fence makes San Diego the largest gated community in existence? Does this philosophy of separation achieve highest good?

06 July 2010

DIY shampoo

Aveda products have been a beauty and aromatherapy staple for me since my days at Deja Shoe. Our two companies were often at the same environmental events, and when I had a staggering fourteen Earth Day events under my umbrella in 1994, the Aveda people eased me into life back home with a few days of retreat at their wonderful spa in Osceola, Wisconsin. The nostalgic scent of "shampure" transports me to that retreat vibe - sleeping under fluffy organic linens, drinking filtered lemon water, sharing simple food, and feeling peace. Natalie Merchant (who has been a great source of inspiration) was there too, but that's a story for another day.

Lately, I've been migrating toward putting on my skin only things I can eat... aloe vera, avocado, coconut oil. With one spin through the little video below, I've become a huge fan of simple shampoo. Because my hair is big, like Janis Joplin big, after the shower, I'm so pleased with the way baking soda shampoo and apple cider vinegar rinse leave my hair fresh and clean, and remarkably sleek!

If you ever visit grist.org, you might find Umbra as charming as I do. Click on this link to see how to make your own baking soda shampoo and apple cider vinegar rinse combo.

24 June 2010

fruitful time

Our fig tree survived transplanting beautifully into it's gorgeous new pot. It has 20 figlets showing and no signs of distress. How sweet would it be to have a crop this year?

After a meeting with the California Rare Fruit Growers, and inspired by our friend Mary, we went shopping for blueberries. It's a bit off season but we were confident in choosing Misty, a vigorous grower with low chilling hours needed.

We were a little less confident when we brought Jubilee home. The fruit is ripening and that's fun, but it actually wants cold winters, so I don't know exactly how this relationship will go. Does anyone have coastal SD experience with a blueberry called Jubilee?

Our pomegranate tree has set flowers before and that is worth the price of admission (as they say) but has not yet produced fruit for us. Maybe this is her year! With its abundance of seeds, the fruit has long been a symbol of fertility, bounty, and eternal life.

20 June 2010

garden house call

Tao is Laura's sweet kitty. She was found wandering as a tiny kitten and has found a home with Laura and her family in Point Loma. Tao watched over us as we did some planting last week, after centering ourselves with meditation and a delicious cup of chai.

The Tiki garden has some herbs taking hold and a healthy planting of pumpkins starting to run.

Cosmos are showing their bright faces.

We found some lattice and a few tall stakes, and planted beans and cucumber. Mini White cucumber will make it's way up the lattice. Kentucky Wonder pole beans are planted all around the legs of the big tipi on the North side of the bed. We put in a row of Roq d'Or yellow wax bush beans, between the pumpkins and lettuce... plus an heirloom tomato volunteer from my garden, and a Japanese Ichiban eggplant. (She thinks her vegetarian daughter is going to enjoy the eggplant... I hope she does!) Laura will explore her options for mulching the bed to improve the soil texture and to retain moisture. I've always been a fan of organic mushroom compost as a top dressing.

And here is the radiant Laura, putting in a few Russian Mammoth sunflowers in the corner where she will have a hot tub one day. A busy yoga teacher (and dancer) needs a place to relax and soak away the tension. Thank you Laura, for opening bodies and souls in San Diego. Blessings for an abundant harvest!

18 June 2010

japanese moment

With dewdrops dripping
I wish somehow I could wash
this perishing world


Today this haiku from Basho moved me. It seems that working with the soil, growing a beautiful Japanese eggplant is a way to "wash this perishing world." A concrete action to reconnect and to cultivate a caring mind. Shining purple blossom with proud yellow center, dark stems against lush green... even before the fruit arrives, it is a wonder to behold.

13 June 2010

coconut bliss

Locally grown Meyer Lemon (from Steve's garden) was the first ice cream I made in our new Donvier hand-crank freezer. It's wonderfully simple to operate, and makes just one pint, which seems to be perfect for us. The second experiment was with juicy organic strawberries. I added in strawberry pieces at the end, but they made little frozen chunks and didn't add anything, so I'll blend them all the way next time. And tonight, pure dark chocolate!

I'm using recipes from Wheeler Del Toro's Vegan Scoop and trading out the soy, using organic coconut milk in place of the creamer, my own almond milk in place of the soy milk.

Larry and Luna of Coconut Bliss are my guides. I first met Larry and Luna in Eugene back in 2003 at a Buddhist retreat weekend, when they were part of a sustainable community there. Imagine my surprise when I brought home a pint of Coconut Bliss ice cream from OB People's Co-op and saw their beautiful faces smiling back at me. Luna was the "kitchen goddess" at Lost Valley then and I have never had a more colorful, delicious veg menu on retreat... the beet salad, and walnut-pea pate' on rustic artisan bread were incredible!