Travels, Friends, Dark, and Light, and the Breathing Ocean

We walked the beach on that last day.  We alternately dreamed of our future farm in California and the kisses we would receive from Maryjane when we got home.  The air was heady with fresh soil and sea and the birds actively flew overhead.  My skin feels so good in the humidity.  I can breathe better too.  My breath caught though as I recognized a form in the sand behind a rock.  An infant seal clubbed, his spirit and his head missing, decomposing into the soft layers of sand that cradled its small body.  Mankind’s darkness found everywhere.  Glimpses of ugliness scattered vaguely in all the light.  But thank goodness for the light.

We had an amazing time with our beloved friends.  We miss them terribly as the years lapse between visits.  We traversed the back roads and highways, from beach to farm to mountain to sunsets, tasting, drinking wine or waters with lemon from Marigold the Lemon tree who resides sweetly on their fourth floor balcony.  Nourishment in every moment.

We came home to one of our cats, Zuzu’s Petals, missing.  Like losing a penny down the drain.  She is most immersely lost in this wilderness of apartment hell.

And as I sat on that beach in the sand looking out into the widest expanse of water that just graced the sky, and listened to the birds dancing on the rocks, and watched my husband recline and read, I noted the waves as they tumbled forth near my feet and then pulled back into the vastness.  Up and stretched in turquoise waves, then exhaled.  Came forth, pulled back.  I watched the ocean breathe for hours.  She gave, she pulled back, she grew in ferocity, she rested, she was beautiful in all her simplicity of ebb and flow.  She wrote out a poem, a script of life, a beautiful tale.

 

Intertwined with Whales

boat 3

A woman on the boat showed us a picture of a dolphin head just coming out of the water.  She had missed the jump.  She had a long telescopic lens and a very expensive camera.  Doug pulled his IPOD out of his pocket but then placed it back in.  I was proud of him.  Doug has an amazing eye for photos and I cannot imagine the work he could do with a real camera.

The water was amazing.  A calm day six and a half miles from shore gently rocking on the ocean.  We were gifted an amazing memory.  Fin whales blew their breath and water straight up in the air around us.  A mother and baby among them.  They were about a quarter mile from the boat and as they went for a deeper dive their backs arced over the water in graceful movement.  They were large and gentle.  The cow and calf came closer to the boat and as their water shot from their blow hole their faces could be seen.  Their arched backs and dives sent the boat rocking.  Like the little boats we had in the bathtub years and years ago with the thick bases that rocked and stayed up in the waves of the tub.  We were a toy in the whole depths and miles of the magnificent waters watching these creatures swim and forage under the filtered sun.

The sky and the ocean fall together in an embrace making it difficult to see where one ends and the other begins.  The whales and playful dolphins the same color as the currents.  The birds swooped down, rested, bobbed, flew, caught our boat, rode the breeze easily on.  Our spirits were deeply connected with every living thing around.  So intertwined with the shy seal who came by, the sea lions, the birds, the sea life, the water, the sky, the sun, the sand, the people around us in similar awe.  We are all one.

“Stop planning.  Prepare for opportunities.”

I heard this as clear as if my friend had said it out loud next to me.  I heard it in the sky.  I heard it in my heart.  Most of the chaos I create within revolves around planning.  We limit ourselves.  Buy a house.  Get a job.  Take a vacation.  Work.  Stay where you know.  Do what you do.  But, what if my future isn’t on a farm?  What if I am to rent an apartment on the beach and write a novel?  What if we take that trip we planned across the country documenting life on small farms?  What if we nestle into our community and have a small garden and chickens and run our shop forever?  What if we don’t?

I know better than to plan.  This time last year we played bocce with our kids on the lawn, the gardens turned and ready to be planted.  A few days after the bees would die.  Then a few weeks later our dog would pass. Then we would receive a letter demanding our demise from farming and the life we knew.  We would laugh, cry, grow, and strengthen and a shop would seemingly appear.  All would be well.  Doors open, doors close, without my planning.

“Be still.”  This I hear a lot as well.  No more planning.  We are ready to take the ride and just see where it leads us.  Leading us out on the ocean to commune with singing whales and playful dolphins was a gift not planned.

 

The Farm is Always Better on the Other Side

Sometimes I go other places with lush flora and warm air and wonder what the heck I am doing trying to homestead and farm in such a difficult place.  A four month growing season, sudden freezes, floods, hail storms, drought, deer, can’t save rain water, high altitude farming is not easy.  Why, I bet one could just throw out seeds here, go in for another cup of coffee, and come back out to see them germinate!

A gal we know who is big in the local food community in Colorado told us a story about how she and her new husband at the time took a boat to Costa Rica and started a farm on a whim.  It was great, she said.  But then she made sure to mention that everywhere has its pros and cons of farming.  There are different pests, different climate issues, different things to think and worry about.  Grow where planted and do it gleefully is the lesson I got once again.

I was inspired by a Japanese Friendship Garden we visited yesterday in Balboa Park.  Sipping warm tea through the rain we stopped to visit the Koi fish in their pond.  I was inspired by the serenity of the gardens.  I often think of food production and intensive farming techniques, finding most flowers a waste if I can’t eat them or make medicine out of them!  But there was a peace and a spiritual aspect to these gardens that are missing from mine.  The Japanese Maple can be grown in Colorado.  Koi (my one experiment ended in a raccoon buffet) would be a lovely addition.  I like how the trees there were planted on a flat patch on the hillside to capture water.  Places to sit and places to listen all encourage one to rest and listen to the birds sing and take in the intoxicating views of flowers.

I am impressed with the produce here.  Everything we can grow in Colorado grows more vibrant and more prolific than at home.  I made this beautiful meal out of everything from the market.  It would be a lovely place to farm.

For the week I have traded Ponderosas and Daffodils for Palms and Bougainvillea.  I have traded fields of corn for fields of strawberries.  We dream of different options.  Where we could live, where we could farm, where we would thrive.  But in a few days we will be back in Elizabeth.  Maryjane and I rented 20% of the garden plots in Elizabeth and we will go pick out our seeds.  I love farming with my granddaughter and I suppose where she is, is where you will find me too.

 

How to Make Your Own Sunscreen (stop poisoning the kids!)

There is a lot of documentation, and one could even just look at the ingredients and know, that sunscreen actually causes skin cancer.  Skin cancer is big business.  Furthermore, if one has skin cancer it needs to be treated systemically as cancer cells are pulled through the skin from the blood stream by way of our marvelous detoxifying sun!  The sun does not cause skin cancer.  If so, how on earth did the pioneers, Natives, and all our ancestors ever survive without sunscreen?!

sunscreen

However, some of us lighter folk don’t necessarily want to look like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer at the beach either.  Tanning, or the pigmentation of the skin, is the body’s way of protecting against burning (the natural response from being in the sun, not a tanning booth).  That first bout in the sun can be too much at first after a winter under too many clothes.  Sometimes if you are hiking for a long day or hanging out at the beach you may need something a little stronger.  Infants and young children may need more protection from sun burns too.  Coconut oil is a SPF 16.  The lotion recipe I shared yesterday is a SPF 12.  Red clover, chaparral, comfrey, and other herbs create their own SPF.  Eating a diet primarily made up of vegetables, fruit, and whole grains further increase your body’s own defense against sun burn and skin cancer because those antioxidants keep the blood oxygenated and cancer cannot survive in an oxygenated environment.  All we are really trying to do here is not fry that first day out!

First we will make my anti-cancer oil.  You will add a teaspoon of this to your 4 ounce jar of lotion I taught you how to make yesterday.

In a pint jar add 2 Tablespoons each of chaparral, comfrey, and red clover and cover to 1/2 inch head space with olive oil.  Keep lid real loose and place in window for two weeks.  This kills free radicals on the skin.

For even further protection add 1/2 teaspoon of micronized zinc oxide to that 4 ounces of lotion and blend well.

All of these ingredients can be bought online (or in the shop if you are local).  This takes your sunscreen to a SPF 45 plus.  Great for newborns and any skin type.

Taking back our choices for our own family’s health is empowering and essential.  Making your own body products is just one more way to do so.  You can see other recipes under Beauty/Health and Herbal Remedies tabs on my home page.

Now, I am going to throw my sunscreen into my suitcase and get to the airport!  I’ll be writing you from sunny San Diego tomorrow!

 

The Interim Room (and a recipe for a luxurious oil bath)

bath

I am sitting in the waiting room between the first part of my life and the second.  A space with cream colored walls and carpet and a fireplace run by a light switch.  It’s quiet here in this respite room as I wait for the universe to throw open the next door.  I breathe and listen to my own heart beat.  My lesson here is rest.  Learning to balance rest, work, and play. I am plenty good at the work and play part, not so much with the rest.  I am forced to learn rest before I can move on.  It is imperative to the creation and success of our next ventures.

farmers market

I will be forty-two next week.  I am thankful for each and every birthday as I know how precious they are no matter the age.  Perhaps I will be sitting on a beach or running about the San Diego zoo or strolling a really fresh farmer’s market.  I know not, open to adventure, we fly out Tuesday to stay with our friends, Lisa and Steve, who graciously opened their home to us.  We are taking the opportunity to travel some this year before we have to find farm sitters again!

yoga

I am really listening to myself in the silence.  I am highly sensitive person.  I have to be careful what I watch or read as it can completely change my heart rate, ignite fear, create chaos.  I close my eyes and meditate on nothing, or love, or acceptance, or peace as I look out beyond the crows to the snow bound mountains and the low lying clouds that embrace.  I stretch into yoga poses, more flexible and getting stronger than I have been in a long time.  I have written poetry and gratitude every day since the beginning of the year and my poetry collection is growing into an anthology of my life.  I recognize myself more, I embrace change, I look forward to the future, but I embrace today.  Even the dishwasher and dryer (which I still could do without).

meditation

The highlight of this beautiful apartment is the garden tub.  The first I have fit in at nearly six feet tall.  It is wide in girth and long and luxurious as I rest my neck against its back and meld into the warm water in the warm bathroom with candles lit.  My spirit resetting at each wave of water and each meditation prompt, and each yoga move, and each delicious clean dish served from my kitchen.  A lovely interim.

The Luxury Bath

As the bath is filling, light candles.  Let there be silence, it is mesmerizing.

To water add a good drizzle of oil, such as olive, apricot kernel, avocado, sunflower, et cetera.

Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to balance the PH of the body.

Add 1/2 cup of fine sea salt.

Rest in bath and pour a bit of your favorite (not volatile or hot) essential oil under the pouring water.  I particularly love rose, lavender, jasmine, and/or orange depending on my mood.

Breathe and rest completely.

san diego beach

Rest, I am learning, is as important as work and play.

(You can type “A Walk in the Vineyards” in the Search and find our week of adventures in Napa Valley and San Francisco with Steve and Lisa from a few years ago.)