Saturday, August 28, 2010

Back to the Berry Patch

Bob's parents arrived last night for a weekend visit. This morning we decided to make a trip to the farmer's market and then to the berry patch to see get some more delicious Himalaya berries!

The Gualala Farmer's Market happens every Saturday morning May through November. There is just a handful of vendors, but everything is super fresh and grown with a lot of love. This time I picked up some sweet small plums and also Asian pears. We also got some delicious artichoke foccacia bread.

After the market, we headed up to the green bridge to the berry picking spot. It's the perfect location by the river, so you can hear the running water while you collect your bounty. OK. I have to say, the Mitchells are pro berry pickers. They got their containers super full, super fast. Guess all those years of living in the Pacific Northwest will do that to you. After about 30 minutes of picking we had a good haul.

Next up ... jam making! We already picked up our jars at the hardware store and have the rest of the supplies on hand. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dusting Off an Old Friend

I have always loved the accordion. It is one of those instruments that most people have an opinion about. They either love it, hate it or tolerate it. I fall into the first group. I think it is one of the happiest instruments around. How can you not love a good polka? In the late 90's my friend gave me a wonderful bass accordion that belonged to his grandmother. It was beautiful, with a pearlized red and cream color. I found an accordion teacher and faithfully, once a week I would lug the big accordion in my little VW Cabriolet down to Chula Vista and sit in a dark apartment and take accordion lessons. It was fun, and I was pretty dedicated to it for a while. I mastered the Beer Barrel Polka and a few others. Once I started working full time in 2000, the accordion stayed in the case a lot more, and eventually it was relegated to the back of the guest room closet.

I decided to bring the accordion on the move. Today, my Mel Bay "You Can Teach Yourself the Accordion" manual showed up in the mail and I took my old friend out of the case. She is as heavy as I remember and just as fun. It's slow going remembering where to place my left hand in relation to the buttons, but I think it will come back. Here's to getting acquainted with the old friend.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Getting to Know the Gualala River

Since our arrival, we have made three trips to the Gualala River. The river serves as the dividing line between Sonoma and Mendocino Counties near the coast. We live on the Sonoma side and the grocery store and post office are on the Mendo side, so we are aware of the river when we drive "to town" a few times a week.

Do you remember that crazy scheme where that Alaska businessman wanted to bag water from Northern California and tow it down to San Diego for drinking water? Well one of the rivers that nut wanted to collect from was the Gualala River. Anyway, that plan never came to fruition and subsequently, the river was declared a recreation area.

Our first time to the river was for kayaking for Bob's birthday. We made a few subsequent trips with our friends Clay, Nikki and their sweet little boy, who were visiting for a few days. All of our experiences to the river have included a little delight and discovery and most recent, Himalaya berries ... yum!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Taking Lazy to a Whole New Level

We share our house with two cats and a dog. I was worried how they would transition to the new place. They are all senior animals and very "set in their ways". I am happy to report they traveled well and are completely settled in.  In fact, they have taken their napping to a whole new level in the cozy sunroom.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Statler and Waldorf

This post is not for the squeamish. You have been warned.

On Saturday, I noticed a black and brown bird perched in one of the conifers right outside our living room window. It was a large, dramatic bird and kept its back turned to us. I pinned it as some kind of raptor. However, when I saw it's profile and featherless red head, I knew it was a vulture (aka, turkey vulture or buzzard).

On Sunday morning the vulture was back. This time with another vulture friend. I started to get happy, thinking that these could be our house mascots. Yay, local wildlife.  Having already met our quota of cute baby deer sightings, the vultures seemed pretty cool! Bob and I talked about what we should name them. We decided on Statler and Waldorf. Mind you, we were not really thinking about what hovering vultures are actually a sign of ... uh, dead animals. We were still thinking ... cool, big neat birds right outside our window.

By noon on Sunday, Statler and Waldorf were joined by no less than four other vultures, which were now taking over the other large conifer by our window. Two vultures ... interesting. Six vultures ... creepy. Scenese from Hitcock's 'The Birds' started to roll through my mind. Could they fit down our chimney?

The birds spent quite a bit of time in the trees.Watching, shifting from branch to branch.  Eventually, one by one, they would make a broad swooping glide and come to rest under the conifer tree. Due to our fence line, I could not see what they were doing. Curious, I went out the side gate to take a look. This is what I found:

Really? A dead and partially-scavenged Bambi under our tree, about 20 feet from our house? Gross. I guess this explains why we had so many vultures making camp in our trees.

Waldorf enjoying his lunch.

So now, I am wondering how long it's going to take for these vultures to take care of the baby deer. And when is it going to start to stink?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Welcome to Rural

I grew up in the suburbs and most recently shared a city with over 1,000,000 people. Moving to a place where the population sign reads pop. 280 and the nearest hospital is two hours away is quick reminder that you are rural and remote.

Over the weekend we went to a community safety information fair where we learned all about the various emergency response planning efforts in the community. Exciting topics like fire-reistant gels, fire modeling, fuel mangement, pet disaster preparedness and more. Even the canine unit from the Sheriff's Department was there.

Anyway, disasters you say? In this paradise? Oh, yes. Where to start. First of all, the San Andreas fault is close by and bends off towards the ocean just north of here. Next, let's talk tsunamis. Carefully marked tsunami evacuation routes dot the area. Then, the big one, FIRE, which may explain why we have two of these attached to our house:

Earthquake, tsunami, fire ... sounds a lot like San Diego. When we lived in San Diego, we were very good about have an emergency kit with water, food, and other essential. We were prepared for three to four days. Watching houses burn on TV during the two San Diego fires was enough to have us get ourselves in order when it came to this stuff. The word here is that one should be prepared for up to two weeks of self sufficiency after a significant disaster. Two weeks? Time to start stocking up the canned soup, pet food and water.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Getting Settled

Today marks 10 days since our move from San Diego to The Sea Ranch. This is the start of our one-year adventure on the northern California coast. We found a great house to rent for the year through a local agency called Coasting Home. What makes it a great house?
  • Furnished and pet-friendly;
  • Large enough so we each have home office space;
  • Swell views of the ocean;
  • Protective hedgerows to cut some of the winds on the bluffs;
  • Cozy sun room; and
  • A guest cottage!

    Guest Cottage? No, one of the ever-changing shelters at Walk On Beach.
I could go on, but seriously, we really lucked out with this place. Did you read the part about the guest cottage? We are really excited about that, mainly because we can more easily accomodate visitors that make the trek up to see us. As of now, the guest cottage is furnished with a queen bed, daybed with trundle, and a small kitchenette. There is a small seating area and we already stocked it with some books and board games!

Sign for the guest cottage is a little worn ... but don't let that deter you.
When are you coming to visit? We would love to have you!