Saturday, July 14, 2007


I really loved this funny movie a friend sent. You might not get it at first, but at the end, you do and then you need to watch it again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


The musical HAIR played on Mount Tam last month. My friend Sacha and I hike up Mount Tam every year for the Mountain Play and usually the best part is the hike, even though we love the plays too. This year, I am pregnant, so we took the shuttle up the mountain. (This is also why I have been absent so long from the blog--too sick and tired, literally, for extra activities)

A few years back, Sacha and I saw a terrible production of HAIR, so we weren't expecting much from this one either. We love the songs and the musical itself for the campy aspects. This production, however, was AMAZING! Maybe it was the outdoor amphitheatre setting, with forest around us and the San Francisco Bay in the distance, or maybe it was the political climate of the time influencing our feelings about the content. Almost solid musical numbers, the antiwar and pro-positive thinking/love sentiment was strong and came across clearly without being preachy. I really had the feeling that this generation was seeing the world in a whole new light thanks to the new-at-the-time mind-altering drugs and they were extremely angry with what they were seeing and the fact that the dominant culture was trying to keep them from seeing it. Different characters played out various perspectives on the war and culture. Some were certain of the wrongness of the war, others were in a gray area. The irreverence for the dominant culture was clearly expressed and the intense feelings and confusion about what was happening with the war, the country and even the situation the youth found themselvs in was chilling and beautiful and reflective of today without being obvious.

These days the idea of the hippies may sound like a cliche, but there is a lot to learn and praise about this era, especially from an authentic source. Check out a good production of this musical when you have a chance for an amazing experience of this groundbreaking era.

Monday, April 16, 2007

rupa and the april fishes

I absolutely love this band from nearby san francisco. I found Rupa and the April Fishes by chance because of the san francisco Bike Mural and when I listened to a few tracks relized instantly that I had to download their entire album. In french, spanish and english, the music is like old parisian circuses and you feel at the same time like it is night in san francisco in some beautiful, alternate universe that pervades the city all the time. The artwork for their album and poster was done by muralist extraordinaire Mona Caron (who did the Bike Mural also) Her work is beautiful in the same way and apparently they had her painting a mural behind the band at their CD release party while the show was going on. Click here to see the video To make it even more interesting, their work is licensed under the creative commons.

Image from

Saturday, April 14, 2007

local waters

This morning we begin a daylong journey through the petaluma watershed with Daily Acts, a ecology organization based right here in town that leads facinating eco-tours around the north bay. Today's topic is "water" and when we rise in the morning it is cloudy for the first time in weeks. As the tour starts at the top of the downtown parking garage, giving us an overview of the town and watershed, it starts really raining and keeps on raining as we hear about the source of our city's drinking water: the Russian and Eel Rivers to the north, from which the water is piped over to us. Petaluma used to receive its water from within its own watershed, in fact, the Adobe creek headwaters (our previous water source) on Sonoma Mountain, on the property known as Lafferty Ranch, are still owned by the city of Petaluma.

We board a never-used-before, brand-new city bus in the rain and ride to Trathan's house on sixth street right in the center of town, where as a renter in one of three units in a house, he and his wife Mary have transformed the entire yard into a permaculture paradise. Part of the lawn still remains, reminding us of what was once everywhere else. There are hundreds of plants here and it is only early spring but the yard is alive with leaves and flowers. Even in the one-foot wide strip between the sidewalk and the street, all kinds of plants are bursting forth, including peas trailing up a recycled wire fence attached between a phone pole and a tree. Raspberry and blueberry plants peek out of pots, kale, collards, herbs leap out of the ground among edible native plants I recognize from last week's journey into the wild fields and forests of bolinas. Bees zip up from their hive to look around for something to pollinate, a cat walks lazily by and the compost worm bins are overflowing with beautiful soil.

Trathan's talks are fun and postive and he is always looking for the upbeat angle. We talk about spirals in nature and the benefits of copper tools, compost and rainwater catchment contours. He explains how taking out a lawn is one of the best things you can do to save water because most of household water usage is on outdoor landscaping. And you don't need a lawn to have a beautiful (and functional) yard—the way to landscape without too much work is permaculture. Working with nature itself helps you save not only water, but time. Layers of plants from low growing groundcover plants to mid layers like lettuces to bushes to trees, to vines all can exist in one place, stacking functions. Contouring the land creates places for water to meander and rest and sink back in to the earth instead of rushing into the street and storm drain where it then has to be treated at the wastewater plant. From Dave, a Petaluma water department city employee, we learn how to read our water meters at home and how to check for leaks which account for 12-15% of water usage in almost every house—eek!

As the drops begin again like a blessing from the sky, we ride our city eco-bus to the next stop, a straw bale house with solar panels, native landscaping, and a pond in back to catch water. The more we talk about water, the more comes from the sky—it is pouring in torrents now relentlessly, and we cheer it on and gather under overhangs.

It is like a modern day rain dance, a ritual based on our current contemporary culture. What are the ancient rain dances if not communities praising and relating with water, talking about where it comes from, the benefits of it and giving gratitude for it. All of us coming together to praise the importance of water today and talking about conserving and respecting it and making every drop meaningful is actually the same thing and meaningful for us—and the skys open.

We end out at schollenberger park near the wastewater plant, where a new trail has been started off to the south that will connect schollenberger with the new wastewater treatment wetlands park. The wastewater will be treated as it goes through through spiral forms, UV light and a marsh that is also an environmental art project by artist Patricia Johanson. This wetlands park will be an educational public resource, (will not have the odor of wastewater) and will expand the already enjoyed shollenberger park.

As the tour comes to a close, the skys begin to clear and I still wonder about saving water when our savings just end up enabling the city to approve more subdivisions. But I am more aware that the path of conservation is simultaneous with the path of awareness about our ecological environment. I can see for the first time that we can possibly conserve happily and abundantly while we also work on ways to measure those water savings and then let the savings stay in the river, not to be used except by the large salmon that used to swim in the Russian River, so many salmon that the river ran silver during spawning season, many years ago.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

plant ideas

When I was a little kid, my sister and I played outside constantly. We’d play until it was night and our mom would call us in saying “it’s dark, come in!” and we’d say “It isn’t dark yet!” and to our eyes it wasn’t— it was more blue than dark—and we’d play a little longer before the idea of dinner drew us in. 

In those days, we were entranced by plants. I recall spending hours picking wildflower bouquets, especially from the abundant wild radish, which came in many color variations, mostly a light pink-purple but also white, and various shades of gold, red-ocher (my personal favorite) and purple tones. We picked mustards and lupins and many other flowers and greens. Low growing plants with white or peach flowers were intriguing but didn’t work in the bouquets, while dandelions had to be just at just the right open yellow flower stage or we couldn’t use them. We counted ten California poppies before picking one. We didn’t know the names of any of the plants except the poppy but it didn’t prevent us from loving them anyway and making salads of them that we never ate because they might be poisonous but we pretended to eat them because they just looked so good. We harvested and mashed in mortars acorns that we were forbidden to eat. We dug clay out of ditches and made sculptures and pots. We wove non-functional mats and baskets from creek-side reeds and watched deer and squirrels and rabbits, following their tracks in the mud. Once, when we were very quiet, we heard the deer talking with each other. We made forts in trees and mazes in the tall grassy fields and swam in the creek we weren’t supposed to swim in. One day, we dammed the creek trying to make a bridge across it with rocks, and learned what happens when you do that, quickly dismantling our bridge and instead constructing one that water could flow through. My sister found an arrowhead and we mused on what the first peoples of this land did here. I wrote a “book” on colored construction paper called “How the Indians Managed” which is a funny title because today I know that is indeed what they did, they managed the forests and meadows for maximum abundance.

I have long wanted to know these plants better, with regard to their names and uses. And yesterday I finally had that door open a crack. My husband Scott and I travel out to Matt Berry’s wild plant workshop at The Regenerative Design Institute in Bolinas, where I meet many of my old friends the plants and some new ones. We start the day with douglas fir pine needle tea. We learn that, yes, you can throw wild radish flowers into salads and eat them! And we learn about plantain, dock, mustard, miners lettuce, chickweed, nettles, wild onions, cattails, snakeweed, and many more.

For lunch we eat potato and greens soup with new zealand spinach (a thick leafed coastal plant that has a salty flavor), enjoy a fully flavorful miner’s lettuce and chickweed salad gathered by us a few minutes earlier, topped with different flowers including radish and calendula. We munch some cattail shoots, and elderberries, and spread onto fresh green leaves a mild, sweet goat cheese infused with figs and calendula petals made earlier by classmate Sequoia from the milk of the resident goats.

In the afternoon, we climb the hill and learn about lichens and trees, and even more plants abundantly growing all over the place. From the hill, the Pacific Ocean is visible, the Farrallon islands emerging ghostlike from the fog.

Later in the day, we make wild food bars, consisting of pulverized sunflower seeds, dried flours of wild mullein, nettles, and lemon balm, along with cooked elderberries and their syrup, all from the landscape we are immersed in. With a few golden flower petals on top and some rice syrup they are a hippie’s dream come true, and also delicious and infused with the energy of the place and about a million vitamins and minerals.

At the end of the day, I am exhausted and exhilarated, (and also allergic, from all the pollen flying around in the springtime wind) and while I have learned a lot, it feels like I barely know anything. The main thing is that my surrounding landscape is now a more open, understandable place. Some of the familiar plants I’ve lived with my entire life now have useful information assigned to them. If I can find an unpolluted source, there is a neverending supply of salad and berries and nutrient-rich, green flour.

Many of these plants are only found here and by using them, we have a unique experience particular to this region. Far from glamorizing the first nations people and their practices, these workshops provide this partially forgotten connection to place. No one is above using the vitamix to grind flour instead of the mortar and pestle or cooking elderberries down on a gas stove, even though the skills for firemaking and firecooking are known and used also. The point is to know the most sustainable ways of landscape interaction, add to them continually and use them in the wisest way possible.

There are more weekends coming up (click here for the schedule at that focus on acorn processing, hide-tanning, basket-weaving, and many more things that connect people with landscape and bring us a little closer to our unique place.

Click here for a video of Matt explaining about the uses of cattails

west marin oaks (photo by scott hess)
cattail shoots (from rdi website)
wild food snacks (from rdi website)

Thursday, April 5, 2007

art or vandalism?

The Lenbachhaus Museum is in the former stately villa of Franz von Lenbach, a conservative German artist (somewhat like the man about to be surprised walking into this gallery in the Lenbachhaus) in the late 1800's. Imagine what he would have thought about having all these Blue Rider artists like Kandinsky being exhibited here. Imagine further what he would have thought about the art piece that was made of this gallery, with all of its crazy spraypainting of colors all over the hardwood floors, tasteful gallery walls and even over a painting (but not really). I have to say, when I walked into this room, it was shocking-feeling, even to me.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

i can't stop talking about the streets

Here are some images of the bike lanes we encountered in Germany. The first one is a mid-size street (two lanes each way with side parking) in Munich where cyclists have a separate lane in the sidewalk area. (Where they won't get hit by cars!) The second one is a similar sidewalk area two way path except along a main arterial street with three lanes each way and parking on the sides of the streets. The third shows how they deal with the crosswalk, including bikes in their own bike crosswalk section. It is assumed people are riding bikes when streets are constructed! For anyone in Europe reading this, it is not assumed here in the US and therefore everyone has to drive a car whether they want to or not.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Reverence (a state of revering)–the missing piece

Before sunset on the Vernal Equinox we climb the wooded hillside across from Heidelberg castle, ascending the trail to an old stone amphitheatre. Emerging behind the round stage, we cross the grassy stone-rimmed platform and head up the hillside center aisle to the upper rows of the theatre. Then up the next trail towards old monastery ruins topping the hill where a former roman temple once stood. The sun is almost setting in the west, directly to the left of the ruins. Two corner towers remain and we can see the old layout of the monastery, the foundations and some walls are intact and different rooms are apparent. The ancient temple that the cloister was built over has been indicated on the ground and it is right in the center of the monastery floor plan. It is small, much smaller than the monastery, and was dedicated to whom, I wonder, standing in the temple outline near the top. I wonder also what significance the temple placement might have held, especially on an equinox. “What is this?” I say out loud, looking up at the white flakes that begin to fall from above. My sister laughs at me. I seriously wonder what they are at first, these white pieces of fluff are so large and soft and the sky is so clear, it couldn’t be snow. Before long, the enormous, lightweight flakes of snow have covered the ground completely and it is becoming very cold and the air is dark blue. A full soft blanket of bluish white covers the hilltop as we gaze out over the valleys from the top of the centuries-old tower. It seems benign, yet cold and powerful, this large flaked snow, and we can see each crystal snowflake clearly—perfect sparkling six pointed snowflakes, just like the drawings one sees of snowflakes.

This spot is the site of a roman temple with a monastery built on top of it. Both are long gone. I don’t know the particulars of what happened to the temple, or the monastery, but many have considered this a spiritual place, for whatever reasons. Possibly because it was a good lookout, or maybe something else. I shiver a bit, not just from the cold.

As we descend the hillside back to the amphitheatre, it continues to snow thick and white on the ground. The amphitheatre looks completely different from when we arrived. The snow has come from first the north, then the south, then east and finally from the west as we go down the hill. When we move through the theatre, the snow begins to subside, and tapers off completely, leaving a quiet, sparkling luminescent nighttime behind and we look down into the low valley where the little village of Heidelberg lies, emerging into view from behind clouds of fog, the enormous ancient castle glowing gold in the night across the river.

The entire idea of “power spots” is an emerging mystery these days. Long gone are the days when cultures purposefully used them in reverence, although many are unwittingly used today anyway. In most cases, it seems to be Catholic churches and monasteries built on old temple sites. The Catholic Church has been diligent in absorbing ancient traditions into itself wherever it goes, whether Europe or Central or South America. The Protestants don’t seem to do this and therefore, in North America, it has not happened much, but knowledge of the places can sometimes be found through old stories, others by chance or direct intent. Our very own Sonoma Mountain is an area were Native Americans went for stories. Mount Tamalpais, on the other hand, is sometimes said to be a mountain that white people had a hard time finding a guide for because no first nations person wanted to climb it. In any case, places give stories. Some places more than others.

An area’s unique attributes can be discovered and amplified through knowing the landscape. It used to be a matter of survival, now it has been reduced to exploitation of natural resources and forget about the source of the knowledge and the wisdom that comes with it. But this doesn’t last long. Seven generations, is the usual amount of time given in the old stories to think ahead to ensure there is no system failure. And it does seem to have taken about that length of time of consistent environmental exploitation in North America to incur serious environmental damage that poses a threat to the natural systems that sustain life.

I think we are beginning to see that the metaphorical stories of indigenous peoples are just that; they are truths spoken in beautiful metaphorical language, as opposed to our absolute language with all our verbs and states of being. The stories about the land are not just fanciful tales but practical maps for living that may sound fanciful to us because we do not usually speak in metaphor. They hold the keys to stewardship of the place.

We are seeing a collapse of the bee population meaning no pollination and therefore a sketchy food supply in a few years. We are seeing a situation where almost all water is polluted, where ancient trees are all being cut, where land is paved over where food used to grow and animal populations roamed. Our technology has grown faster than the wisdom that is supposed to go with it. And stories from our own landscapes that show us how to live in a way that sustains all of us are missing.

The stories in each landscape (yes, even ours) can help grow the wisdom part of the tree that has been suppressed for so long. Technology will not fix what technology has broken. Careful listening to the land is not magic. Although it can feel that way, like a sudden snow on a hilltop feels magical, understanding relationship, causes and effects is just pure common sense, and its subtleties and lessons will be necessary to bring our culture into balance.

amphitheatre looking down
monestary ruins with outline of temple (the little arch near the left is the top of the outline)
amphitheatre after the snow, looking up from the stage
view of Heidelberg with glowing castle and river
all images by Scott Hess

Friday, March 30, 2007

magical luminescence

In Münich, we see lots of Wassily Kandinsky's and Gabrielle Münter's art at the Lenbachhaus and we discover that the summer home Kandinsky and Münter shared from 1909 through 1914 is in a prealp town called Murnau and that we are going right through that area the very next day. The house was recently restored in 1999 back to the way it was when they were living there and is now open to the public. So we go to their Alpine house in Murnau that overlooks the train tracks and gazes directly out to an elaborate church on a hill, and, sensitive person that I am, walking up the rise to the house, I feel like I am returning to my own home.

The Alps are beautiful and striking. There is something strange about the area that I can’t figure out until I realize that it is the light. It does this thing where it manifests a white pearlescent overlay that makes everything shine in a peculiar kind of way. According to Gabrielle Münter, when she and Kandinsky went to Murnau, they saw the house and Kandinsky became completely obsessed with it and kept insisting that she buy it until she gave in and they moved there. They painted hundreds of paintings and entertained other artist friends there for five years during the summers. They worked on the house and gardened and wore traditional Bavarian clothing and enjoyed and collected traditional Bavarian crafts and glass painting and began painting on glass themselves and giving in to the effects of the light and the place itself until gradually all figurative form became secondary and abstraction was born.

This was the birthplace of the Blue Rider group. Kandinsky, Münter, Marc and others all collaborated to come up with this new idea of the spiritual in art as a pure concept. Kandinsky loved the idea of the rider and Marc was into horses and the Blue Rider came from there one night around the table. There was no actual requirement of style and for the first time a movement embraced other arts forms as well, including dance, music, visual art by children, amateurs, and the mentally ill. It was quite a breakthrough and a radical idea for the time, although these days it is a given that art encompasses all of those things and remains rooted in personal experience. When you look at the art they made there, and the art they made previously, and when you also travel there you can truly see the difference in the colors and the energy of the work.

Franz Marc was killed in the war at Verdun at age 37, and Münter and Kandinsky parted ways in 1914, because Kandinsky, a Russian, had to leave since he was now an enemy of the state during the war, and the group’s heyday ended. Kandinsky went on to become more and more abstract with his work, continuing to develop in Moscow, while Münter was somewhat derailed by his leaving her when he offered little explanation of why he never returned, even after the war, and she didn’t really paint again until the 1930’s.

When Kandinsky returned to Russia, he expected the war to end soon and left his work in Murnau with Münter, figuring he would retrieve it when he came back. He never returned, married someone else, and when he asked for his work back later, she refused and a custody battle ensued. She ended up keeping much of it and safeguarded it in the Murnau house all through the Nazi regime when it was all declared degenerate.

On her 80th birthday in 1956, she donated all of it to the Lenbachhaus in Münich, after years of the museum director trying to convince her that they were the right place for her donation. The small, regional Lenbachhaus museum became internationally acclaimed overnight.

The personal details of these artists' lives together and the sketchy demise of their relationship are as important to me as the artwork. Understanding their physical context explains in a fuller way where the art comes from and why there was such a dramatic shift for the entire group when they all worked together in Murnau. This magic soup of new love, light and dramatic relationship with each other in the milieu of the Alps created an opening and immersion into to the spirit of the place, allowing that spirit to emerge into their media. It feels like it is still there, the spirit of sparkling creativity particular to the place, waiting to be uncovered again and again by anyone who gives in to its magical luminescence.

Images in order are:
Studies and Improvisations Wassily Kandinsky
The Bavarian Alps
The town of Murnau
Dining room at Münterhaus where the Blue Rider was conceived
Interior of the Russians’ House Gabrielle Münter
all images by Scott Hess

civilized streets

More on the streets of Bobenheim-Roxheim, germany.

In this image, you can see the cars parked in the street. Looks like traffic, but no, those are parked cars. Bikes have the road and there is a sign warning about pedestrains since there is a school right there. No one seems to be annoyed by this. The protocol is to wait if someone is in the oncoming lane and then go. Many cars have an extra little "left side back parking light on" option that you can turn on if you are parking like this on a dark road.

Here is the midsize rental car we were issued as if it were a geo metro. (Not that I don't love the geo metro) Apparently the mercedes, being their car, is very popular. We don't have this model mercedes in the united states for some reason. It is in the B class. They have an A class too that is the compact version of this that we saw all over the place and a sports car version that was parked next door. Our car had pretty decent gas milage.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

german details

We've spent the last week or so in Germany visiting with my sister and checking out all kinds of wonderful things. Scott was taking a photo of a sculpture on the corner of a building in Münich and a woman came up to us and started speaking in German smiling with excitement--since we know no German at all, we were at a loss to answer and kept smiling with perplexed looks. Finally our perplexed looks caused her to ask if we spoke German and we shook our heads. At this point my sister came up and was able to translate. The woman said that she had lived in Münich (München) for 31 years and had never noticed those statues until she saw Scott taking a photo of them! She thought that was hilarious and was happy to finally see them!

In that spirit, rather than expound on the many attractions of münich, the Alps and the beautiful Bavarian towns we visited, I'll focus in on the details I noticed as an outsider. One thing that was striking was the transportation systems. Trains to everywhere. Care taken with the streets. Highways are well-maintained, streets in towns are beautifully cobbled, cars are in good working order and up to date (mostly) Bike lanes a normal thing to build in when a street is created. Some may consider it a restriction to place regulations on cars and to tax the people so the government can fix the roads, but I think it is good common sense. The village streets are cobbled in beautifully crafted designs, using different size and color stones. In Heidelburg, I noticed crosswalk stripes were done in white stones. No need for paint! In other places where there were gaps, little stones filled in.

Everywhere and I mean everywhere, there are bike paths. On the side of the freeway, next to winding mountain roads in the Alps, on main streets in towns. And these are paths with actual bicyclists in mind. They are next to the road but separated by a wide strip of field so the likelihood of being creamed by a car is reduced to almost nothing. In small villages, people just ride on the streets and cars are aware of them. Oddly enough, cars actually park in the streets too, like in the actual lane. Traffic just goes around them. It is the way they have adapted the narrow roads. There are very few stop signs, and lots of yield signs and right of way signs, so you never need to stop for no reason. Maintainance workers sweep the streets with old fashioned brooms, I guess they just work the best.

Along the highway there are rest stops. Some stops are basic, you can just pull off to stretch your legs, others also have recycling bins so you can recycle your trash, others have restrooms that you pay 50 cents for and then you can redeem your restroom ticket at the adjoining store for 50 cents off if you choose to buy something. No denying a restroom because you aren't buying something, it's the other way around! Also at the rest stop is a nice park with benches and tables and place to walk yourself or the dog. The rest stops are designed with the idea of what people might want when they pull off the highway for a rest.

I have often wished for better bike paths here in California, and for better aesthetics and functionality to public amenities and have observed how they are treated as some kind of "extra". In Germany, and everywhere In Europe that I have been, you can see that making life pleasant for people and doing what is good for the environment is more of a priority of life. Many things indicate that people and the earth are foremost in decision making. For example: the myriad bike paths that everyone uses for transportation; the double flush toilets that are in many public restrooms, (large and small flush...); the craftsmanship and sense of fun in everyday items, like the dark royal blue refrigerator in my sister's kitchen that has cats with glow in the dark eyes painted on it (she actually bought it this way!); electrical outlets high on the wall so you can attach a wall mounted light without unsightly cords trailing to an outlet by the ground; the beautifully designed streets pictured here, solar panels covering homes and barns all over that generate energy that the owners can sell back to the electric company for a premium rate; windmills all over the place; most of the windows have exterior shades that roll down over the windows and completely block out light—important in a northern city where summer nights are short; in historic districts, they keep a sense of history with the buildings but are not so regimented that life can't take place--in heidelburg, we saw laundry and little teapots on windowsills. And birds--lots of people seem really into birds and feed them and hawk rests are placed on the side of the road by fields. I saw some hawks using them.

It makes me feel like the ideas I have for our town to make it more pleasant and functional for people are not crazy and impossible to implement but are actually valid because they are already being done somewhere else with full support and good results. I hope we can learn to lean in the direction of decision-making for people and the earth foremost in our minds because that is the wisest way to make decisions. What is practical and easy for people? What is good for animals and the earth? What will be most fun? What will give us a fuller life?

Friday, March 16, 2007

the sun

My favorite magazine is the Sun magazine. It has no advertisements, just stirring black and white photos and wonderful writing. Some people think it is depressing because a lot of the writing is about difficult truths, but I think what people are responding to when they think that is the quietness of the magazine. Since there is no advertising blasting at you, and no color, it has more stillness, and sometimes stillness is unnerving in our frantic world.

The Readers Write section is always where I go (and probably where everyone goes) first. A few topics for upcoming issues are listed and people can write in with their stories around those topics. This month’s topic is Good Friends. Upcoming deadlines are: Rivals—April 1; Telling the Truth—May 1; Airports—June 1; Getting Ready—July 1; Fame and Fortune—August 1; and Parties—September 1. The rest of the magazine is devoted to articles, both fiction and nonfiction, poetry and an interview. This month there is an article written by a guy who taught US history in Syria. His sarcastic style communicated the fear and surprise he had of Damascus, and the love he came to have for the place and its people, in spite of the things that made him nervous. The Sun is about true moments, and often those come with wackiness, embarrassment, fear or grief. Above is a photo Scott took that was on the cover of the Sun one month.

You can even read the magazine online via pdfs with intact formatting, but it is really nicer to read it on paper. (Like, reading online can be a great catalyst to start in--I'm now enjoying Anna Karenina in actual book format thanks to dailylit unwittingly introducing me to the beauty of the Russian authors--see post below on Dostoevsky)

The miracle is that this magazine exists at all. Started in 1974 by an idealistic young writer, the Sun remains idealistic, and even though it is constantly assaulted on all sides to carry advertising, the editor/founder refuses. When the Sun arrives in the mailbox, I know that very soon, possibly even in minutes, I will be in a still, quiet, friendly place, hearing stories from people like me who are noticing the strange details of life.

Monday, March 12, 2007

urban island

The other day I went for a walk in another of our little town's hidden refuges, mcnear island. It's actually more of a penninsula, and is the site of a new little park (and a forty foot section of the bay ridge trail) The reason it's somewhat of a mystery spot is because if you are on the river's west bank down around h street, and look across, you might assume you are looking at the other side of the river, but actually you are looking at mcnear island. If you are on the east bank of the river, you might look across and think you are looking at the west side and in this case also, you are not. You can find the neck of the penninsula just southeast of the d street drawbridge. The other day, the grasses were vibrantly shining with premature summer sun as I walked into its reverie.

Heading out onto the path, the town recedes behind me and expands out in a far-away circle as a strange quiet, sparkling world opens up. Old damp gray grass bows under new green grass growing through it. Passing the old livery building with its vintage blue ghirardelli chocolate advertisement still vibrant on the side, I remember when the developers moved the old edifice here from its former home on d street in the middle of the night—since they were building a huge new parking garage where the livery had been standing for decades. Eve, Susan and Lisa arrived in white nightgowns and nightcaps for the 3am event. It's like a building put out to pasture, I think, and pass by its old gray boards to the open rising meadow. Water flows by on both sides.

A wild place downtown, in a sense that you would ever expect. The community heart vibrates when you stand quietly on this piece of land at the top of the rise. Nothing has been "done" with it yet, so it is still beautiful.

I heard it might become an urban farm, created by permaculturists, who understand wildness and landscape. This would expand and transform its magic and give rise to a different kind of interaction: agriculture. But permaculture is not traditional agriculture; it's more along the path of indigenous people, who managed the forests and formed a partnership with the elements rather than imposing a dominating force. It could be one act of wisdom, acting from a center.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

the erstwhile medicine show

Last Saturday morning, we traveled to old eastern europe (while in the privacy of our own town). Down at the local cafe, The Erstwhile Medicine Show, nudged us all back in time into the narrow streets of petersburg, budapest and prague. The band of 17 and 18 year olds played (well) an array of old time instruments including fiddle, standup bass, guitar, accordian and washboard. Their claim: "From new orleans funeral marches to alabama hoe-downs and klezmer gypsy jigs, the Erstwhiles will cure all your ails." Simple and effective.

Our friend Eve, who was a dancer and now builds stone walls, summed it up when she said "It's so nice to see good, decent teenagers these days!". Of course, she meant, teenagers who focus on the intrigue of life itself.

And these teenage musicians dragged us all with them into the intrigue. Sound is mysterious, transporting the listener in the same way that scent or flavor does. Less obvious that the visual, music blindsides you and takes you where it wants you. And if you aren't a musician yourself, then the next best thing is music in real life—on the street or in cafés—melodic notes that pull you into the moment, whether that moment is from some other time, right now, or both.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

a la sainte terre

Thoreau writes about the art of walking or "sauntering" and says that the word is "beautifully derived from 'idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte-Terre', to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed 'There goes a Sainte-Terrer' a Saunterer, a Holy Lander." He goes on to say that "They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean...he who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea."

Our town's meandering river, formerly a marsh and estuary, has been legally declared a river by an act of congress. Like congress can change what is—and what is, in this case, is the largest intact salt water marsh in the continental united states, flowing into the Bay from here. The dredgers come out every few years to take out the mud from the petaluma river and make a channel that boats can come through. The coursing water doesn't know it's a river now though and still likes to flow over its floodplain sometimes. It has come very close to overflowing the banks downtown and regularly gushes onto roads, into neighborhoods and auto plazas, parking lots and retail stores, as if they were never built.

There is a walking (or sauntering) and biking trail following the petaluma river and its feeder creeks along all the way across town. Not everyone knows about it, and some people write on the flood control walls. These walls have been engineered at great expense to protect the adjacent neighborhoods from this relentless water—neighborhoods built before people realized that a flood plain sometimes floods, even if you call it a river instead. To get to the lynch creek river trail you have to find the beginning, which is behind the clover plant off lakeville. Eventually the trail will lead all the way into downtown, but until then, behind the clover plant you go.

It is surprising how fast you cross town on foot and even faster on a bike. From lakeville to mcdowell in 20 leisurely minutes on foot. The thing I like about this trail is that there are no cars in sight until you go under the freeway, which is a treat in and of itself. The natural world abounds all around you: lynch creek rushing by, rain pouring down, tall fennel plants growing around you, birds conversing madly, a stretching meadow with oaks in the distance. And at the same time you are juxtaposed against the fast freeway right above, cars barreling by at 80 miles per hour as you stand quietly, invisibly under their wheels. And there you are, a la sainte terre.

Saturday, March 3, 2007



I hear it:

like I consume everything in my path,
like a fire or a hurricane


and did this consuming begin before
or after
the burning of citizens
and their resurrection as

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

secret art

Graffiti is the secret art of our time. Tucked away on back walls or appearing suddenly in plain sight, it is part of the unexpected. There used to be a huge long graffiti wall in our town next to the train tracks, out of the sight of most citizens unless you happened along that out-of-the-way street off Lakeville, and then, what an amazing surprise. One kid procured permission to paint there and then it became a mecca for artists from all over the Bay Area, who painted hundreds of layers over the years. A few years ago, anti-graffiti people painted over it and created an explosion of tagging throughout the town that hasn't stopped yet. Here are some photos taken by Scott of what the wall used to look like. wall photos

A subculture taking over public space, the dominant culture reacts. Creativity always prevails. It's a complex subject, not really as cut-and-dry as it seems. Some of it is obviously art, some seems to be almost art, some is tagging (its own strange art), but it is all linked. Piece by Piece, a doc by filmmaker Nic Hill, explains the history of SF graffiti and some of the underlying motives. We showed the film to a packed house last spring at the local weekly film series. Adults and kids alike were captivated.

I've seen two little works in particular around town that I liked, one was a stencil of the Virgin of Guadalupe on the ballet studio door, the other was a tag in pink paint pen on the outdoor phone booth at pinky's pizza that had a nice swirl at the bottom. It looked like the person had a natural affinity with the pen. I've seen that one other places and appreciated it but I really liked that it was at pinky's in pink.

On the top of the Phoenix Theater is a huge beautiful mural painted by two of the town's preeminent graffiti artists. It is a sort-of secret because you can't really see it up there unless you get on top of the hill or climb up to the roof. You can see a corner of it when you walk by if you are looking up at the sky instead of at the ground. If you are driving, (unless you are driving down keller street and look up) you will probably never see it.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

yes to turnips

The other day our vegetable box from Laguna Farm arrived and there were turnips in it. "Yes, turnips!" I shouted to Scott. I never would have expected to get so excited over turnips, but when you are subscribed to a farm and are eating seasonally, you only have turnips at certain times of the year, and they are fresh out of the ground and flavorful, and I have a really good turnip soup recipe.

For those who don't know, when you subscribe to a CSA like Laguna Farm in nearby Sebastopol, you are helping a local farmer to grow vegetables without the normal risk of "growing them and just hoping people buy them". It's about $15 a week, which is pretty much what I would normally pay for vegetables per week. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is the answer to the corporate food problem. It is also so much better tasting to eat food right out of the ground from right here, than to eat food shipped long distances in dirty trucks from who-knows-where for who-knows-how-long. When the "spinach scare" happened last year, we didn't need to worry, because we knew exactly where our spinach was coming from and knew that it was fine. We can go out to the farm anytime to check it out, or help out, or pick up a few extra things at the little farm store. They are solar powered, use tractors that run on veggie oil and everything is beyond organic.

I have always hated turnips but it could be because when I was a kid with a different palette they were always in stew and looked like potatoes so you would expect a potato and then, oh no it's a turnip! So I have avoided them until they arrived in the box for the first time. I thought oh-no turnips as a knee-jerk reaction. There was an accompanying recipe for turnip soup, so I tried it. Now I can't wait for the turnips to arrive. These turnips are different. They are absolutely delicious.

We also left some salad greens as a thank you at our friend's house in SF when we were vacationing there for her to find when she returned the next day and she called us up and said "they were not like the usual bags of greens, they were so delicious!" She seemed a little puzzled that we would leave them there for her instead of gobbling them up--but we had another bag at home...

Of course the summer season for produce is wonderful in the summer but the fall and winter food--the squashes, bok choi and fennel bulbs all coordinate with the weather outside and make you feel all cozy when you cook them. It is a seasonal wonder.

And for those souls who are wondering...

turnip soup
Melt some butter in a dutch oven, add a bunch of diced turnips (like those pictured here) and saute 5 minutes. Add a cup of diced potatoes, add some chives, cook one minute. Add 2 1/2 cups of stock and boil, then lower heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Puree in a blender with 1 1/4 cup of milk (preferably local organic milk) reheat and add a little lemon juice from a nearby lemon tree. Of course the key to this is using the good turnips.

Friday, February 23, 2007

pique nique

Yesterday, in French class, we learned that the English word picnic is from the word pique-nique in French, meaning "pick a trifle" or basically, eat appetizers. Somehow the meaning expanded over time to mean doing this outdoors. We also discovered that its root is in an old Etruscan word. What a surprise, because most of the time, when we look up words to see when they came into use and from where, there are startlingly recent dates, like 1750 or even 1825. It makes me wonder what people said before that. Even the actual word piquenique only came into use in France in the 1700s. Hmmm.

One of our teacher's (and my) favorite things is seeing where words come from and when. It expands the meaning of what you are saying to know the origins of your words. And to know that you can say certain things in one language and not another. Or that certain relationships between things occur only because of how a particular language relates them and those relationships do not occur in a language that doesn't relate them. It explains the reality of the senses and how, oftentimes, words aren't sufficient.

I love my French class. I can walk to it from my house and it is held in a cafe of course. It is meandering and connected, and while we learn French, we don't have to study for tests or arrive with homework in hand. It is much more French than that; it is more about camaraderie. We can even skip a class or come late and no one minds, in fact we say "bonjour!" when someone arrives an hour late as if it were normal. Therefore, we are actually learning French and we are also learning a lot more than that.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

two authors I thought I'd never read...

Somehow I found, where they have online versions of many of the classics, and when you sign up, they will send you, via email, a 5 or 10 minute piece of the book every day to read. Out of curiosity, I browsed the list which went from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, (13 emails total) all the way to Les Miserables which will top your email box off at 679 emails (about two years of daily reading!) In a way, that is how Les Mis should be read, since it was originally a serial published in a newspaper...

I subscribed to two books I knew I would never read normally so as not to ruin any ones I though I might really read if it turned out to be a strange way of reading books. They were Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky and Call of the Wild by Jack London, which, inexplicably, I have tried reading numerous times but have never been able to get into, not being much for dog stories.

What happened next is facsinating. I realized that Call of the Wild was actually interesting and even transcendent. Somehow, this email format got me into the book and once I was into it, I couldn't stop. Luckily you can click to receive the next fragment immediately, so I did that over and over again and promptly finished the book. I was a Jack London junkie. I am still thinking about it and it was a great way to read it. I went out and picked up an actual Jack London book to read in real life and now that I know his style of writing I can completely enjoy his work. I don't feel any worse for having read Call of the Wild on a computer either.

As far as Notes from the Underground, a different thing happened. I realized right away that this was a book that I could only take in five minute increments. I couldn't stand to read it on the computer so I found the book itself, which came with another of his stories, The Double. Then, I began to read it in increments of much more than five minutes and I loved reading it on paper (maybe because he talks about the paper in the book). I also felt like I needed to know a little more about someone who would write this crazy book so I researched his life history and studied the history of Russia so I would know where he was coming from. I found it totally fabulous! I am really into the book, freaky as it is, and am looking forward to reading The Double. In fact, I have high aspirations to read Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamozov, and then move on to Tolstoy. We'll see what really happens.

Another thing I realized from this strange episode, is that I have read so many women authors in my life, and I really ignored many of the men authors since I wasn't interested in them, and now I need to go back and check them out more in depth.

These two men are a weird contrast and I think reading their work together is intriguing. Both struggled in life mentally and describe the inner world in their own very different ways. Both are very place-based. They write about what they know intensely and only that. Of course, London was based right here so his life echos are layered in with mine in the landscape. Dostoevsky lived during turbulent times, and his work reflects a broken culture, but nevertheless, he too is still very grounded in his landscape. He was pro-Russia, defending it often, in times when the "cultured" were pro-Europe and disdainful of Russia.

At any rate, I think is a (somewhat strange) success and recommend it.

Monday, February 19, 2007

rex rising

I live in a place where the local downtown hardware store burns down, and they just go ahead and build it again as if it were the most normal thing in the world, which of course, it really is.

When REX hardware burned, everyone gathered. Teenagers wrote RIP REX on the sidewalk and cried. Signs went up with affectionate words, flowers, notes and artifacts were posted on the fence. The owners told everyone they would rebuild it the way it was and they actually are. "Hurry Jeff I need a new plunger" one person wrote on a piece of paper and posted on the fence. Long Live REX.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

small house soliloquy

Living in a small house, I know the beauties of a small house. Cleaning takes a shorter time. Most things are within arms' reach. We only need one phone instead of four or five scattered throughout the house. I see neighbor kids who live in small houses too playing outside with each other, no play date scheduling required. I often wondered why there aren't more small houses being built today with really good indoor-outdoor floor plans based on contemporary life instead of life in 1900. That is the only real limitation of the small house; the old floor plans don't usually make the best use of the space.

I later discovered that the reason few small houses are being constructed today is because houses made today are either built by people for themselves (and then they are going to build one that has everything they can think of that they might want over their whole lives because they aren't going to do it again) or else built by a huge development company that wants to make as much money as possible off the sales and the fact is that four 2 million dollar houses on 20 acres (5 acres each fenced in from each other) equals 8 million dollars while ten small $250,000 houses on ten acres with the other 10 used for community agriculture for the ten families only equals 2.5 million dollars and more than twice the hassle of sales plus the inevitable arguement over "density" that can be neatly sidestepped when there are "only" four houses or "homes" as they like to call them.

The larger picture is always lost, the community loses and the developer wins an extra 5.5 million dollars for a lot less work than they would have had to do if there had been some kind of requirement that housing in our town be built according to what we actually need. Of course there is a need for the larger houses too. But, we really already have plenty of those. Just look around if there is any doubt. What about houses for people who are single? Or couples? Or a single person with one or more kids? Or couples with one child? Or retired couples? Or gay couples? Or people who just want a smaller house or neighbors they can see once in a while? This kind of housing is severely lacking in every community. And it perpetuates feelings of inadequacy in people. We are still living with this crazy mindset that everyone should plan to have a full nuclear family and if they aren't in one now, then they should expect to eventually work up to that exalted goal by buying a four bedroom house now just in case and to give the appearance now that maybe they are living like that. A mother living in a studio apartment with her child sometimes feels like maybe there is something wrong. If housing were specifically designed for single mothers maybe they wouldn't feel like there was something wrong because if there is housing designed just for that situation then maybe it is a "normal" situation. When you have to hunt high and low for it, maybe it feels like you are not on the right track.

I think it's not a matter of what people want or what people need or even what people find acceptable, it is merely a matter of what a the house-building companies are doing in order to generate maximum profits. And you can't blame them. It's what the economy and country is set up to do and it couldn't be any other way. You just start to wonder how effective that system is when it doesn't actually serve the people living within that structure and we have to create laws and codes to restrict what is coming naturally from the structure that is in place.

I know some people who live in big houses with one or two children and they feel isolated and lonely and have to schedule everything for their kids and themselves since there is no opportunity for random interaction. They spend time cleaning, they spend money trying to furnish all the rooms. They don't always use all the rooms. They are wonderful people, but they are often unhappy for reasons that could be remedied by a different living situation.

I don't know what the solution is. I don't think we are going to convince companies to make less money because they want people to be happier. I think it's hard for elected officials to mandate laws and restrictions against the natural order of making the most money possible. The idea of that upsets chambers of commerce and business in general because they worry that the natural order of their structure is being disrupted--and they will launch convincing campaigns to keep the order of things. (Although I'm not sure why in this day and age, the threat of a development company not building a subdivision in our town is such a threatening thing) Of course there are some elected officials who place the good of the community first and try to balance keeping the economy flowing along and providing for the community's needs. These officials will not approve projects that are more of what we don't need because of the constant refrain of "we need sales tax dollars". But even they can't approve projects that aren't there and small house projects are not there.

It is harder and harder to create housing that is appropriate to actual needs. The increasing rules to keep developers in line also keep the local group that wants to build their own community in check. Land in places like Sonoma County is expensive. There is already so much development, that mindful people are hesitant to add to it with new building. There are zoning laws that prevent density. Neighbors fear density--developers conjure up visions of ghettos and traffic. These days it really means more land can be left undeveloped and that quality of life is higher for the residents in a planned community of small houses who will see each other, and have access to bike paths and community amenities. Neighbors benefit from density because they have increased community and even increased neighborhood amenities like bike paths or a neighbor with a rototiller instead of four new mcmansions on the acreage next door. Its a shift but a much needed one. I like seeing the neighbor kids play outside and I know they like being out there.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

the tea room is the breakfast nook

The Tea Room is like the breakfast nook of the town if the town were a house and different places were the rooms as Kelly and I used to say. Sunny, happy and good food there, just like a breakfast nook. Tea Room greens are the best and the tea of course.

Indigenous people live(d) out in their communities and any 'houses" were for sleeping. That is sort-of how I see our town. Our house is small by American standards—850 square feet. Two of us live here and work here and sometimes we have Scott's son here too since it is downtown and it is convenient for him to sleep here after hanging out with his friends all evening. Often, I'll meet my clients downtown in my other offices, namely cafes. The rent is cheap, just $3-$15 per hour or two and coffee or lunch is included! I do a lot of strolling downtown during the day and at night also--good excercise and fun. If we need something at the store we can walk. When I am working at home, I leave the door open for the sun and the neighborhood sounds to come in.

The town is our larger living space—the longer I live here the more little places there seem to be, the more little routes are discovered to walk or bike. You can't see anything in a car though. Those routes are fine for efficiency but you can't really see where you are at. You can't see the orange tree in the vacant lot bursting with fruit on the way to the Tea Room in a car. And if you see someone you know in a car, you whiz on by and maybe don't even wave if you aren't quick enough, if you are biking you can say hello and keep going or you can stop. If you are walking, you generally stop. Then you can talk, even if it is a short time and that small but vital connection has been made.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

nowhere to roam

One day a friend phoned us to ask where they could go hiking east of Petaluma on Sonoma Mountain. We calmly informed them that besides a docent-led tour of Fairfield-Osborne Preserve, (a fabulous place but not exactly near Petaluma, it is accessed by going through Penngrove, then almost to Rohnert Park) the entire west slope of Sonoma Mountain is off-limits to the public.

They kept asking, sure that there was a place that might have a waterfall, or some small hiking trail at least—it was a big mountain range after all—the views must be great, the trails must be fabulous. No, we said, no public access exists anywhere on the entire mountain range that watches over our town. Indeed, that is what the fuss has been about over Lafferty Park for the past fifteen years. Though the city of Petaluma owns 270 acres on Sonoma Mountain, with a gate to it right off Sonoma Mountain Road, and it has been designated to be a park in the city’s General Plans since the 1960’s, and it is the only publicly owned land on our side of the mountain, we, as citizens, are not allowed there.

The headwaters of Adobe Creek (formerly the city’s drinking water source) are on this city-owned mountaintop acreage and there are plenty of waterfalls in the spring. There are spectacular views of Petaluma, even all the way to San Francisco on a clear day. The trees, animals, flowers and the land itself are vibrating with energy and beauty. So what is the problem?

Many excuses have been brought up over the years. 1) The roads: some say Sonoma Mountain Road is too dangerous for the public. But there are roads far more dangerous and un-maintained leading to Santa Rosa Parks. 2) Partying on the road. As far as I can tell, there is already partying on that road and others in the Petaluma environs and a more regular presence may even prevent partying there. 3) The hill is too steep to hike on. All I can say to this is: Mount Tam is steeper and that doesn’t seem to be a problem. 4) The fragile land and bird life. It is no more fragile than anywhere else, including the floodplain and oak woodlands in the valley that are currently being built on. A ranger and a trail building program, making Lafferty a wilderness park (as opposed to creating paved trails throughout it) and posting information about the flora and fauna, would take care of this. There are plenty of wild places in Marin and Santa Rosa that have trails where people can co-exist with nature. And people want and need to experience wild places.

On the other side of the moutain, in the Sonoma Valley, Jack London State Park beckons the visitor, and if Lafferty is made a park, (as it was designated to be in past City General plans) it can connect to Jack London State Park and hikers could actually walk all the way over the mountain.

So what to tell our friends about where to hike on Sonoma Mountain? Unfortunately, we had to tell them that there is no public land on our side of the Mountain, that they would have to go south to Olompali State Park or Marin where many public parks exist for people to walk in and immerse themselves in nature for a few hours.

I had the feeling our friends didn’t quite believe us; that there must be some little place we just don’t know about, but they will find that there is not, and when they realize what has happened with Lafferty Park, Petaluma’s mountaintop cathedral, I wonder what they will do?

For more information on the story of Lafferty Park, and how you can help to open it, go to:

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

the place where I live

I live in the town I grew up in, which has its challenges, but also some interesting benefits. The longer I live here, the more layered it becomes, like an intricate personal sculpture. As I traverse the landscape of the town and its environs, memories are embedded from different times of my life, some lying dormant, others springing to life. Others fold over or cross new ones in strange ways. My stepson had the same French teacher I had, for example, and she is the same, only more so and wow I related to her from a new angle when he was in her class and not me but with the old angle intact underneath.

And while it’s also wonderful to go to Paris or Bobenheim-Roxheim, the beauty of what we call the “bio-regional” vacation is not to be underestimated. A bioregional vacation can really get you into the mode of place appreciation because you are stopped from the day-to-day routine, there are no obligations and it’s kind-of a challenge and very good practice to have no obligations close to home. (It’s also cheaper than far away, you contribute to your local economy and it’s nice to only have a 20-minute drive to get home again) People come here to the San Francisco North Bay to vacation all the time, so why not us?

It is hard to do a real vacation at home at first because your obligations will draw on you, so we usually go somewhere close to home but not in our town. Our last one was over the past weekend. We went to San Francisco. (San Francisco is 40 miles away) We stayed in a beautiful little apartment within walking distance of the deYoung museum, where our friend (who was vacationing herself somewhere else) lives. We fed her cats in return for vacationing there. She left us recommendations for restaurants and bike routes, bikes, guidebooks and elaborate hand-drawn maps of her neighborhood. We walked to the deYoung Museum, where we spent an entire day checking out New Guinea art, the painting galleries, went on the Valentine’s themed tour of particular love and scandal related artworks, took in Ruth Asawa’s mysterious hanging twisted wire sculptures and hung out in the tower with its 360 degree view of the city.

I don’t feel like a tourist when we go on these little trips, but more of a curious observer who isn’t obligated to be “going” the whole time. Since we are close by, we can take our time and not do some things because we know we can come back anytime and the mad rush to see everything just doesn’t exist. We stayed at “home” reading with the two cats and playing games, we walked around a beautiful little Korean neighborhood and saw stores selling tapioca drinks and fish, we browsed at Green Apple books and ate delicious pizza. It was raining and we walked in the rain. I made French toast in the mornings in a normal kitchen. It felt relaxing, we learned new things and had open eyes to the little neighborhood we were living in, we were inspired creatively and when I was sick the last day we just went home and I went to bed to recover without too much of a feeling of “ruining the vacation”. More layers of place grow and stretch out within the distance of a day’s walk from the place where I live—in the place where I live. The place where I live.