Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

The carved masterpeices, from left: Hege made a silouette of her three cats (Fred, Henry, and Alf), Paula made a "bullcat," I made a grinning face (scroll down, it looks better in the day time), and Crystal made a headless horseman.

Here's my grinner. She's happy because she turned in her thesis that morning. Crys (the newest housemate) made a running girl.

And check out these amazing embroidered felt nature buttons. Jaja found them on the internets and shared, thanks Jaja!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It feels good to buy art

I bought this gorgeous painting from my friend Kirsten a few weeks ago at our best local coffee shop/gallery/performance space, Delta of Venus. Isn't it awesome!! It's a hawk, not sure what kind. The colors are just incredible and it's painted on a peice of corrugated cardboard. An interesting choice, and a good one I think because it cuts down on the cost of materials and adds a more casual feel to this "fine art" peice. I think it would look a bit too formal on a regular canvas. I got it framed and matted at this great local frame shop, too. The frame cost more than the painting, but it was worth it (it has non-reflective glass and the matting is meticulous).

This feeling reminds me of a story by one of my favorite story-tellers, Kevin Kling. From "Buying Art" on the Wonderlure CD:

"I remember the first piece of art I ever sold. I was in college. One night I saw Audrey, a flute player with the band, sitting at a local pub with a friend. I introduced myself and announced I also had an interest in the arts, that I had shown quite an aptitude in a drawing class. Audrey seemed preoccupied but her friend wanted to know if I had some sketches back in my room. "Why yes I do, I do have sketches back in my room." She then wondered if I'd show her my portfolio. "Of course!" And we were off. When we got to my room, I took out my portfolio and to a somewhat surprised Audrey's friend, I displayed my sketches. Especially the human figures and how the hands and feet give me the most trouble as you can see by the shoes and mittens. She was impressed. And then, when I felt the evening couldn't get any better, she said she wanted to, "you know, buy a painting." "Of course," I said. Then she leaned into me and whispered, "it feels good to buy art." I said, "I know." I've never forgotten that evening. That evening I knew I was a professional artist.

. . . The first performance art I ever bought was a viewing of Mary Gilligan's appendix scar during recess behind the brick pump house. It challenged me."

Listen to him tell stories (in his amazing Minnesota accent) at Minnesota Public Radio
and National Public Radio.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

School Garden Profile: Emerson Junior High

In preparation for my master plan, I spent a bit of time this summer at the local school gardens, speaking with organizers and seeing how they are put together and maintained. And I thought I'd share. Here is Ralph Waldo Emerson Junior High's school garden, in Davis, CA.

Each class has a small plot that is cordoned off with a string and planted to bursting with different crops that fit into the curriculum according to the year.

For example, the 7th grade garden is planted with medicinal, culinary, dye, and household use herbs that would have been used in the Medieval Europe:

There are also specific classes that have areas in the garden, like the math class. At the beginning of the school year the math class plants peas in order to record the growth of the vines and practice their algebra.

Some of the classes have plots full of crops and grains from the old world and new world (some really cool crops they have growing in the garden are quinoa, peanuts, and several kinds of millet). They make flatbreads and stews from the old world in the beginning of the school year and move on the the new world foods as their geography and world history course progresses. How cool!

The school garden organizers in Davis have been so incredibly helpful. Now I have binders and binders of information on how to incorporate gardens into school curriculum. And I have an interview next Wednesday for a job in Philadelphia where I might be able to use this new knowledge (cross your fingers!).

Woolly Love

This past weekend a few friends and I biked out to the Yolo Wool Mill open house, pretty much the best thing, ever. I've been looking forward to the open house this year for a few weeks now.

This year we got there earlier than last year and we got to see the sheep shearing demonstrations. I took a few photos, as you can see. And it had nothing to do with the adorableness of the sheep-shearing-guy, no sirreee . . . (ahem, check out the second video, right at the end, ahem).

We got to see them shearing by hand and by machine, and learn about the pros and cons of each (and the pros and cons of shearing white versus black sheep; apparently you want to shear a black sheep when you're in front of an audience because they can't tell when you nick the sheep with your shears, ew).

Oooh, and these guys were there, too! Alpacas and something rarer that I can't remember. So cute and soft.

Check out those bangs, that's gonna be my new look. God, I love farm stuff. Pretty soon I'll be trying to figure out urban farm stuff. Speaking of which, read this wild article about urban farming in Toronto.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I am a master of science . . .

. . . officially.

Now this happens.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Check out my booty!

Behold the perks of going to an ag school:

The housemates and I are having a pumpkin-carving party this week and I decided that there must be a way for us to do this for free. So I called up the professor I used to TA for (who also gave me a season's worth of veggie transplants for free . . . twice). In exchange for driving a van on one of his class field trips, I was able to go on said field trip and pick all of this booty. For free.

Four watermelons, two winter squash, a few pounds of grapes, a bag full of walnuts, and seven pumpkins. Stay tuned for the results of our carving!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fall romps

Walking with Sammy on a fresh autumn day. The crisp air gives him an extra bounce in his step, I swear.

He loves to carry his friends around. Right now the moose is his favorite.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Unexpected Beanie

Well, I tried to make the "Robin's Egg Blue Hat" by Rachel Iufer, but mine definitely turned into a beanie rather than a nice tight cap. It kind of hangs. But that's okay, I think I know someone with a head big enough to appreciate this beanie, and an appreciation for buttons . . .

The pattern is very simple, and I love the little flap (though it looks better with a single color yarn than my crazy fall colors, I guess). If you try it, take her advice and come up with a different way to decrease. I also blocked this before sewing the flap together, which added to the slouch-factor.

Why do we do this to our animals? And why does it incapacitate me with giggles every time?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Knitting in a Basket

I've been eye-ing these woven baskets at the farmer's market and various hippy supermarkets in town for about two years now. Last week I finally broke down and bought one because they were selling them at the FM for $20! I'm not totally sure, but I think that's cheaper than I've ever seen them before, so I jumped at it. It might just have been the right time, but I'm pretty pumped about my purchase. Aaa, materialism.

That thing sticking out of the top is the lastest hat I'm making with my amazing yarn. It's just awaiting finishing right now, I'll share the pattern with you when it's done!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Food for Thought

I harvested the last of my container garden this evening (although there are a few lingering tomatoes). A cucumber and a cantaloupe that both ended up with a funny crook neck. This is the only melon I produced from either the watermelon or cantaloupe vines I planted. Ah well.

So I turned on the radio this morning to the local radio station (KDVS), and heard a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., followed by some amazing gospel music. I love local radio. The speech was the "Give Us the Ballot" address, May 17, 1957, given at the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom in Washington, D. C. The most interesting thing was how relevant and moving his words still are today (the italics are audience interjections):

"We need a leadership that is calm and yet positive. This is no day for the rabble-rouser, whether he be Negro or white. (All right) We must realize that we are grappling with the most weighty social problem of this nation, and in grappling with such a complex problem there is no place for misguided emotionalism. (All right, That’s right) . . . if we will become bitter and indulge in hate campaigns, the new order which is emerging will be nothing but a duplication of the old order. (Yeah, That's all right)"

"These men so often have a high blood pressure of words and an anemia of deeds. [laughter]"

"We must follow nonviolence and love. (Yes, Lord). Now, I’m not talking about a sentimental, shallow kind of love. (Go ahead) I’m not talking about eros, which is a sort of aesthetic, romantic love. I’m not even talking about philia, which is a sort of intimate affection between personal friends. But I'm talking about agape. (Yes sir) I'm talking about the love of God in the hearts of men. (Yes) I’m talking about a type of love which will cause you to love the person who does the evil deed while hating the deed that the person does. (Go ahead) We've got to love. (Oh yes)"

"We must also avoid the temptation of being victimized with a psychology of victors. "

Besides the incredible content of his words, listen to his vocabulary and turn of phrase! Anemia of deeds. Misguided emotionalism. Victimized with a psychology of victors. I got chills while listening to him speak. Read the whole speech here. Listen to him here. There's really nothing like a good orator.

Leaving the Desert and the Dawn

As my time in California comes to an end, so does my part-time job doing field work at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada. The past three days were spent watching the sun rise over my little rare plants, trying to cram in the last bit of data collection before the field season is over.

O the sun comes up-up-up in the opening

sky(the all the
any merry pretty each

birds sing birds sing
gay-be-gay because today's today)the
romp cries i and the me purrs

you an the gentle
who-horns says-does moo-woo
(the prance with the
three white its stimpstamps)

the grintgrunt wugglewiggle
champychumpchomps yes
the speckled strut begins to scretch and

and scritch( while
the no-she-yes-he fluffies tittle
tattle did-he-does-she)& the

ree ray rye roh
rowster shouts


- e. e. cummings

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


My master's degree is almost finished. After one last meeting with my committee today, I will do a final edit and hand that sucker in.

So now what?

It's been a crazy couple of years out here in California. A lot has changed, but at heart, most things have stayed the same.

I came here with a love of environmental education, but with the aim to concentrate my studies in horticulture research, native plants, and habitat restoration. And I did that, for a while.

But the education side kept creeping back into my life. First with a series of T.A. jobs. Then with the "Kids in the Garden" program. And I've found that I just can't shake it.

So what have the last few years taught me? Above all, I've learned that my heart knows what I want, and my brain tends to get in the way. I've learned to refocus my efforts on environmental education with an eye for garden education and local food/nutrition outreach. The Bay Area leads the country in garden-based education, and I've been doing my best to learn as much as possible before leaving.

And I will be leaving, in about one month. I will be returning to Philadelphia, where I did my undergraduate education, and where M is still living. Philly is fast becoming the next big thing in garden and environmental education and outreach. Plus, I miss it.

I'm currently looking for a job in environmental education (I have one potential, keep your fingers crossed!). But my master plan is to open a community garden and education center in West Philadelphia, where I will be living.

This is a long-term project, and I expect it to progress slowly. But I will take you along for the ride. Thanks for coming this far with me!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Caught Red-Pawed

"What?! I'm not allowed up here when no one's home?"

"Whatever, you're not the boss of me."

Monday, October 13, 2008

SF Love

I can't help it, I love stencils. I found this one on the sidewalk in SF last week, on 18th Street in the Mission Dolores District.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The best fall hat EVER

If I do say so myself. I'm pretty pleased with the way this one turned out - I used the same pattern for the wool hats last Christmas but I've learned to tweak the pattern a bit, plus this yarn was well made and NOT knobbly as all get out.

I got the yarn a year ago at the Yolo Wool Mill open house (which is coming up in two weeks!). Unfortunately, I forget who made it and what the blend is, though I do know that it is hand dyed and at least partly if not all merino wool. It's so soft and gorgeous, I just want to rub it on my face all day (is that weird?).

Aaaaaaand, I used those buttons right away! Shocking.

Here's a detail of the pompons - you can really see all of the rich colors in there.

This hat will be perfect for walking around town on blustery fall days like those we've been having lately in Davis. The shadows have been intense.

Yesterday, Sammy and I went for a long walk on just such a blustery day; partly to take the hat for a test drive, and partly because the light and temperature were just the way we like it. What a happy boy.