Writing to Learn

When I look at the list of months in my blog archive, it strikes me just how little I’ve written over the past 2 years and a bit, especially compared to my time in Cambodia and on the farm in 2008 and 9. I suppose writing varies inversely to the amount of stuff filling my days.

I’ve noticed, though, that I need write (and talk) to learn. Life over the past couple of years has been so so full of experiences, people, places. I’ve been on the move, constantly changing to the point where it’s hard to describe to people (or sometimes even know myself) who it is that I am and what exactly it is that I do.

Thankfully, I have incredible friends in my life who humor me and listen and help me untangle the sometimes frenetic thinking and doing into something that’s more comprehensible and sometimes even beautiful. They make sure I don’t take myself too seriously (it’s a flaw!) and that I pay attention to the things (usually people) that matter the most.

Even so, with all that reflection in real time, sometimes I feel like I could retreat somewhere and simmer in the sum of life til now… like I could keep myself occupied and become wiser just by being quieter. I’m hoping a 10-day silent retreat in May gives me a little piece of this, and I’m planning something longer — maybe three months — sometime in the next four or five years. A time for silence and ripening.

In the meantime, for the summer, I’m going to hold myself to a stricter schedule of writing. I’ve been trying to maintain a radical openness since coming to Detroit, but recently I’ve been thinking I need to focus in more and process things I’ve heard and overheard, passing thoughts, feelings, into something more coherent (not static or final, but connected… like a mind map, a network of connections).

I guess this is a reminder that this particular blog space isn’t a place where I intend to preach, influence or educate, but to have a conversation with myself and people who care about me who happen to be far away and others who resonate with the questions I’m asking about food and equity and relationships and change in the world.

Making space to actually write things down won’t always be easy, but I think it’s worth it if I can learn something new.

Some things I’d like to take on…

  • Social justice and entrepreneurship — tensions between the individual and the collective. Does the fact that a tension is unresolvable mean that the mechanism is flawed, or perhaps even more important?
  • Brokering roles & the role of social structure in unlocking creativity
  • Arne Naess and the ecological self — is this possible? desirable? true altruism?
  • Does creativity require limiting someone else’s capacity to create?
  • How do we remind ourselves that every story is incomplete? Is there a prayer? A song?
  • Emergence  versus scale?
  • Does financial sustainability in a “social enterprise” have to be based on markets as they exist today? (Must we achieve “profits”? What about grants? Unpacking the financials of that biodynamic farm on Lopez Island)

And some more mundane things about day-to-day life and cooking and some creative projects that I’m working on.

I’m getting more excited as I write about it. That’s a good sign :)

April 20, 2012   1 Comment

What’s in a week

The air is hushed between going and coming.
It’s still.

A chill 

trips down my spine and hangs
on the air.

It’s heaviness 
off my fingers,
 my blue suede moccasins
into a puddle under the desk
where I would be working
if it weren’t for

the big space
one thing and another.

Fill the room 
with belly laughs to keep from sighing.

My virtue is not patience, 
but what is good just
won’t be rushed.

May 10, 2010   2 Comments

Leapin’ Leonids

There’s nothing like a celestial event to put things into perspective.The annual leonid (shooting star) shower happened Tuesday night and I organized a little camping adventure.

Tuesday at 7pm, friends Christina and Mark, my mum and I piled into a car laden with sleeping bags, lanterns, blankets, binoculars, firewood and cocoa and headed up the 5 freeway towards the Santa Lucia Mountains. A few minutes prior, friends Steve, Brandon and Katherine left from Palo Alto driving south to meet us.

Mark said the last hour of driving was like the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland sans giant cobra. It was a bumpy, narrow dirt road in the stygian night. We passed one campground (the wrong one) but otherwise couldn’t see any signs of the campsite where we were supposed to meet. No cell reception (obviously) and no markers. Google Maps + the GPS = failure.

Eventually, we turned back, planning to camp at the one campsite we had noticed. I turned off the road down the marked path to head towards Navajo campground, but then decided to retrace a little farther on the main road before giving up on the other half of our party. As we came up on an unmarked path, HEADLIGHTS! Hooray!

By that time, it was nearly midnight and cold. We started a fire and unloaded the car and sat around snacking and drinking warm things. Eventually, around 2:30am we headed up a small hill where we unrolled our sleeping bags and gear side by side like individually wrapped sardines and stared up at the sky. Our whoops and hollers at the bright projectiles soon turned into murmurs of appreciation, then some of us dropped off to sleep and it was quiet.

Around 4, we woke up, a few feet down the hill from where we started. The slick sleeping bags had no chance against gravity. We started the fire back up, warmed our numbed toes and soon after, started to pack up to head home.


Me and Christina straining towards the heavens.


Mum, fire-tender extraordinaire.


Christina like an adorable cartoon warming herself in front of the fire.


The crew (I’m taking the picture)


Yes. Looks like the same picture, but wait… who’s that in the middle?


Dawn on the drive home.


November 19, 2009   5 Comments

Want to see our carrots?

Click forward in this video to 3:16 and 3:58 to check out our baby Napoli carrots in their 15 seconds of fame.

July 13, 2009   No Comments

Today’s a great morning

It’s 5am. I just brought Lucy to the bakery and it’s time to start work. It’s chilly outside, but not cold and I’m going to clear the rest of the spinach from around the pea trellises, and then flat some flats, and prick out some broccoli and take care of the sheep and then maybe have a little time to bake bread and make a trip to town.

Early mornings are the bomb.

July 2, 2009   No Comments

Market love

I love markets. When we were small, every so often, my parents would bring us to the Orange County swapmeet. We’d load into our radio flyer wagon and go from stall to stall, surveying the goods, picking up socks in bulk and new tennis shoes, new plants for my mum, and, if we were lucky, something from the toy stall or later in my girlhood, a mood ring or a ying yang necklace from the jewelry tent.

Then there are craft markets. The froo-froo Festival of the Arts in Laguna Beach, the lower-key summertime street vendors in downtown Santa Cruz, the ridiculously hip Sunday Market in Chiang Mai, tourist-heavy Rastro in Madrid, the traditional Weinachtsmarkt in Regnesburg, Germany, and seasonal fairs on the Stanford campus, just in time for Mother’s Day.

And then, my favorite of all, the farmers’ market. Where produce is king and possibilities are endless. Squash blossoms? Apriums? Six strawberry varieties. Torpedo onions, garlic scapes, eggs of all colors. It’s a feast for the eyes and in all other senses of the word. Whenever I travel, I want to see the market; hog heads at Barcelona’s La Boqueria, durian at the wet markets in Singapore, cow stomach and coconuts at the outdoor stalls in Kampong Cham and Phnom Penh, sausage and bread and cheese in Tuscany, flying fish at Seattle’s Pike Place. Then there’s back home in Fullerton and in my adopted home, the San Francisco Bay: in Southern California and at Alemany and the Ferry Plaza and California Ave. in Palo Alto there are fresh berries, pumelos, tomatoes, avocados, and all the other delicious bounty of California’s Central Coast. There’s fruit and veggies to see and smell and touch (not too much!) and often taste when the stall owners are good at marketing.

So farmers’ markets are sensual, and then they’re also full of community; they’re where you go to shop and talk. Studies have shown that many many more conversations take place at the farmers’ market than do at supermarkets. Unsurprising. When you’re surrounded by sun and smiling farmers and mountains of fresh produce, it’s hard not to open your mouth and talk (or sing!)

I’ve always wanted to work at a market and now, with Synergy, I have. It’s fun. The San Juan Island market is full of folks that I’ve just started getting to know and Saturdays at the market are a mix of taking orders and answering questions about our produce (yes, that lettuce is perfect for wraps!) and greeting friends and chatting about the season and our sales and a hundred different things going on in the community.

If you love farmers’ markets too, consider voting here for your favorite!

June 29, 2009   2 Comments

Lopez Biking Adventure

On Sunday, Jaime woke up around 9:30, washed a few more dishes from our Thai feast the night before, bungeed our picnic lunch to the back of our bikes and rode out to the 11:40 ferry out to Lopez Island.

It was a gorgeous day of biking, beach, birds and ice cream cones. By the time we made it back for the 7:05 ferry to Friday Harbor and home, I was exhausted.

In all, including the ride from the farm to and from the ferry landing, we covered around 35 miles.

Sunning ourselves on the ferry ride over

Fast-moving currents at Shark’s Reef

Agrarian scenes on Lopez

Turkey vulture enjoying the remains of little creatures torn up by the haying equipment

A short visit to Spencer’s Spit inspired a promise to come back to bike camp later in the summer!


in a larger map

June 9, 2009   1 Comment

Tasty Tuesdays on Jackson Beach

Tuesdays are harvest days and it’s only fitting that in the evenings, there’s a standing celebration down at Jackson Beach.

Heavy rain was in the prediction, but both times, the rain gods were thwarted by the rarely seen, but heartily worshiped sun.

This week, I rode out the 5 or so miles to Jackson Beach with the intention of riding back before dark, but what with volleyball, hummus, a bonfire, and the famous “Chili Willy” playing his charango, I couldn’t tear myself away.

Showing off our mad volleyball skills
Not being able to tear myself away


in a larger map

May 21, 2009   6 Comments

Jacqueline and Jim come to visit

Jacqueline and Jim posing on the peak of Mt. Finlayson to “prove” they were here!

On Sunday, Jacqueline and Jim came to visit me at the farm. It was my first time giving a tour to visitors and it was fun! It made me want to coerce more friends and family to come out here to visit. It’s impossible not to feel pride when showing off the beds I’ve cultivated, the little plants I’ve planted, the seeds that are germinating. I think Jacqueline got some ideas for planting this summer — we did a little tasting of the tatsoi (relative of bok choy, which we use in salad mix) and she was impressed.

After fresh bagels and the farm tour, we set off to hike around and search out some of the local flora. Jacqueline’s botanist background helped the identification:

Fairy Slipper Orchid

Chocolate Lily

The cool looking red & green groundcover is broad-leaved sedum, a native succulent

Corn Lily

Maybe a Sitka Spruce?

Common Camass

From the summit of Mt. Finlayson

After summiting all 290 ft of the “mountain,” we headed back to the car and down to town to find food. Delicious crab enchiladas, and then time for the ferry. All-in-all, a glorious Sunday.

May 6, 2009   No Comments

This is life.

This is what it’s like to ride home to the farm hot-cheeked and smiling, eyes-closed, sprawled on a barley pillow in the covered bed of a pickup truck next to a guitar, a box of tools, a sandbag, and dirty potluck plates at 11pm after a May Day party where you acted the part of “the ladder” in an impromptu play put on by two little girls with freckles and short bangs respectively, who called themselves Brazil from China and something clever you can’t remember, soon after which you left for a delicious gingery drink and hot water for tea poured mistakenly into your drinking glass at a magical gem of a restaurant tucked away in what seemed like an abandoned parking lot.

May 3, 2009   No Comments