Posted 1174 days ago

Building bikes is fun. I brought back a Univega Gran Turismo 10 speed, and turned it into a nice single speed rider.

Bazel Has a New Friend
Bazel Has a New Friend
Posted 1351 days ago

We went to a gdgt live event last month in SF to get geeky and see/touch/learn about the latest hot gear. We got some t-shirts, and screen cleaners, and stickers,…

Bazel Has a New Friend
Our One Year Anniversary Here!
Our One Year Anniversary Here!
Posted 1355 days ago

It was one year ago June 12th that we drove into Marin, through downtown San Rafael and into Fairfax and arrived at Nicole’s house. It was a Saturday night and…

Our One Year Anniversary Here!
Sexy Swedish Buns for the Food Revolution
Sexy Swedish Buns for the Food Revolution
Posted 1413 days ago

It’s long overdue for me to write about Jamie Oliver and his Food Revolution. J and I have been Big Fans of his since the Naked Chef on PBS, which…

Sexy Swedish Buns for the Food Revolution
Lincoln Hill Bike Path to the Civic Center
Lincoln Hill Bike Path to the Civic Center
Posted 1433 days ago

With the current, welcome nice weather we have been having, I have been riding my bike around again. So I took the opportunity to try out the new Lincoln Hill…

Lincoln Hill Bike Path to the Civic Center
Tiburon and Toddy
Tiburon and Toddy
Posted 1462 days ago


J and I have been enjoying regular walks along Richardson Bay in Tiburon. There’s a nice flat trail we like to walk on Sundays, when we want something not-very-challenging after…

Tiburon and Toddy


··· Dec 15 2011 · By ···


Accumulating bike parts makes it possible to mix and match parts from various set ups, and work them into different combinations of different bikes.  It’s a pretty inexpensive way to (once you have accumulated enough stuff of course) build yourself a new ride.  That is the approach I have been taking in my bike garage lately.

I have been primarily riding my blue Crystal Marubeni Yamaguchi single speed for a couple of years now, and like the tight geometry of that frame.  But the kicked back seat tibe in the Univega Gran Turismo  10 speed frame, has been calling.  The lugged, frame of the univega and just overall better frame build feels like a total upgrade when compared to the less than hefty built Crystal.  So I yanked everything but the frame and forks from the Crystal, and patched it onto the Gran Turismo.

What’d I have to do?

  • Removed wheel sets.  Exchanged the araya 27″ wheels with the Weinmann dp-18s.  10 speed to single speed.
  • Exchanged bottom brackets.  I needed the 110 mm to match the rear sprocket.  The 110 is sealed, while the 137 being removed from the GT is loose bearing.  So this is an upgrade to the Univega
  • The single cog cranks from Crystal, went onto the GT, chain ring mounted to the back of the crank spider thingy, chain alignment is still a couple ticks off, but it works fine with the thick 1/8″ chain
  • BullMoose handlebar came over.  I absolutely love this handle bar headset combination.   Gary Fisher is credited with coining the name bullmoose.
  • To get the Tektro brake mounted I had to drill out the back hole of the brake mount of the fork.   I cleaned up and remounted the rear, dia compe center pull brake.  I still need to determine if I am going to actually thread up some cable for these yet.
  • Mounted the Brooks B66 saddle with springs.  For a saddle that is older than me, the B66 is still kickin’ it.  I also have been using the B-15.
  • Finally, I took the pedals off my fisher mountain bike.

I have really enjoyed piecing the GT into a nice daily rider, although I don’t ride as daily as I would like.  I even had the chance to get the nice matching Univega Mixte rolling for Dorothy.  She loves riding it.  I love that when we ride together we are on matching bikes

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Bazel Has a New Friend

··· Jun 21 2011 · By ···

We went to a gdgt live event last month in SF to get geeky and see/touch/learn about the latest hot gear. We got some t-shirts, and screen cleaners, and stickers, and mobile phone cases, but my favorite bit of swag is the stuffed monkey from T-mobile. We still haven’t figured out what his name is. Options include: Mo, Mozy, Merl, Merv, Mork…

Bazel has taken quite a liking to him. Sid, too, but Bazel likes to wear the monkey around his neck (the hands are velcro.) The only thing they’re not too fond of is the crazy loud yell it makes when you fling it across the room, so we try to keep that to a minimum.

Jeph saw a girl on MUNI w/ a very similar monkey only he had a black cape and mask. Of course once he told me I immediately wanted one like that so our monkey wouldn’t be lonely. As if by magic (love those words!) a few weekends later we were driving by a church in Ross that had just had a rummage sale. Nicely, they left a selection of good free stuff out on the lawn and guess what we found? The black-caped and masked monkey! So now we need to come up with two names. He reminds me of Zorro. Since Zorro is the secret identity of Don Diego de la Vega, maybe we should name them Don and Diego…

Picasa’s not playing nice w/ Ubuntu (I recently jumped off the Windows ship and am, for the most part, sailing along quite pleasantly on ship Ubuntu – and I’ll write about it at some point) so will add a picture of the Zorro monkey later.

Categories : Good Stuff, The Nest

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Our One Year Anniversary Here!

··· Jun 17 2011 · By ···


It was one year ago June 12th that we drove into Marin, through downtown San Rafael and into Fairfax and arrived at Nicole’s house. It was a Saturday night and the first heat wave of the summer. 4th street in San Rafael was full of people shopping, dining, and enjoying the warm summer evening and I asked Jeph, “Why didn’t you ever tell me how nice it is up here?!” (…in Marin…when we lived in SF and I never ventured to Marin..) Actually, in his defense, in the twelve years since we left SF together, he’s mentioned Marin several times, but we had other spots to explore first (Grand Blanc, Kalamazoo, Oakland, Holly, Hollywood FL, Boston, and Hollywood CA.)

Nicole gave us such a warm welcome and comfortable place to land and look for a new home. Supportive, Positive, and Encouraging – we are so lucky to have Great friends like her! The next day we looked at two places in and both were nice but not “the one.” Monday we looked at four places and liked three (rare for us.) The home we chose just felt like Home the moment we walked in and we moved in the next day, June 15th.

Looking at only six places and finding a great place in two days was a new, and exciting record for us! The whole move actually, even the one day layover in Des Moines while our truck was repaired, was smooth, easy, and stress free. It felt (and still feels) like all the challenges we’ve risen to, all the lessons we’ve learned (more than a few the hard way), and our commitment to personal growth and development and positive daily practices is recognized by the Universe, and we are being guided, supported, and encouraged on the path of life.

We love our Home. It is warm, cozy, safe, secure, light filled, and love filled. We have lots of fun exploring all the towns and nature all around us. And archangel Raphael, the healing saint, watches over us from his Mission down the street. Life is Really Good and I celebrate, and am deeply grateful for, that!

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Sexy Swedish Buns for the Food Revolution

··· Apr 20 2011 · By ···

It’s long overdue for me to write about Jamie Oliver and his Food Revolution. J and I have been Big Fans of his since the Naked Chef on PBS, which first aired back in 1999 and continued for three seasons. I would say it’s what really took our cooking/eating from pretty good to better and better. Beyond his adorable accent and youthful energy (even now, with four young children running around at home!), it’s his unique approach to simple, fresh, whole, and delicious that we so appreciate.

More recently we’ve found Jamie at Home and Jamie Does… (‘Jamie’s Food Escapes’ in America) on the Cooking Channel. In the former he’s cooking straight out of the garden and we like the many casual spots he has for cooking, especially the outdoor oven and sitting on a stool by the range (good idea.) And in the latter it’s fun to watch him explore the markets, learn about regional flavors/traditions/specialties, and then put his own creative spin on it. Of all the cooking shows we watch and cookbooks we read, no one has inspired us to cook up more of their recipes than Jamie, and it is always Really Tasty and Really Healthy.

The other thing we really respect, admire, and appreciate about Jamie is his passions for helping youth (our future!) find their way in our challenging and crazy world, and making school food Good Food. Season 2 of his Food Revolution is airing on ABC right now. We were actually amazed that he’d want to come back to America after the really tough go he had during Season 1 in Virginia. But, when you are really passionate about helping people be their healthiest, happiest selves, you do find the energy to keep on keepin on. Amen. Here’s what the Food Revolution is all about:

The Food Revolution is working to make sure every child grows up knowing what real food is, how to cook with it, and eating it at home and at school, in order to fight the impact that a diet of processed food is having on our children’s health

We need your support to help us run campaigns that mobilize people to replace junk food with meals cooked from scratch in schools, inspire people to improve their health by cooking more with fresh ingredients, and put critically needed food education and cooking skills in communities across America.

While it’s not surprising that public school food, as a whole, is highly processed and preserved, it is still astonishing, and disheartening, to actually see what American children are being fed each day. So thank God for Jamie and his team (to do all that he does – When do you sleep/rest/rejuvenate, Jamie? – it’s clear he has a great family, great team, and great network.) Keep up the Great Work, Jamie. We are rooting for you!

We ask all of our friends, family, and connections to join us in signing the petition and supporting the Food Revolution. We can accomplish great things when we are healthy and happy.

P.S. We made Sexy Swedish Buns from Jamie’s Food Escapes, Stockholm, recently – chewy and yeasty on the inside, crispy on the outside,  just a hint of sweetness and citrus. Love the cardamom and ya, they “look bloody gorgeous” (see photo.) I’m thinking they’d be perfect for a Sunday hike and picnic in the sunny hills…

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Lincoln Hill Bike Path to the Civic Center

··· Mar 31 2011 · By ···
With the current, welcome nice weather we have been having, I have been riding my bike around again.  So I took the opportunity to try out the new Lincoln Hill Bike (and walking) path to ride up to the Civic Center.
The wet late winter weather we have had for the past month or so has really been getting to D and I, so with the sky clear and the temps in the low 80s it was easy to sneak out for a ride to see one of my favorite buildings in the world.  But before I start glowing about the Marin Civic Center I am going to point out where to go to find the path, and talk about the goods and not dso goods of this bike super highway.
The Entrance
Since I live just south of downtown San Rafael, I tend to take C street up to 4th from home.  4th is a well recognized bike route through downtown, and it is kind of fun to see the people milling about and enjoying the shops, restaurants, and common spaces.  There are always characters, good for people watching.  But on a bike people watching is done while moving, so you don’t have time to reflect too long otherwise you might get doored or honked back into attention.  Generally 4th street is a decent street to ride on.  Most of the drivers understand that bikes also use the road, and there is a fair sized bike lane.  Now we need to find the bike path.  Once you get through the main downtown zone, you need to look for Tamalpais Ave. and turn north (left in the case of my ride here).  Tamalpais Ave. is just before the unused railroad tracks.  Take Tamalpais north 2 blocks to Mission.  Hang a right onto Mission and just before the corner of Mission and Hetherton, to the left is a sign that notifies the entrance to the bike path.  Note: it might be hairy to turn across the traffic coming off Hetherton onto Mission, so you can always break the law and cross over at Tam&Mission and take the sidewalk over, but that may be illegal so be careful.
The Path
The first stretch of the path is also a cul-du-sac street/bike path for a block.  Traffic is for residents mainly so it’s easy.  After that first block the path turns into the Fahrrad Schnellstraße.  The north bound route is primarily up hill from this point, but fairly easy cranking until you reach the Lincoln Ave exit (yes this bicycle expressway has some exit ramps).  I ride a single speed most of the time with a 46×17 gearing and I had no problem with this route, in the north direction.  Once you enter the tunnel under the 101 exit ramp to Lincoln Ave, you get a bit of a respite before the last push that will bring you to the highest elevation of the path.
This corridor is quite a bit steeper than all other parts of the path.  So much that they built in a stepped style of paving.  Not actual steps, but up a bit, small bump, flatten out, up a bit, bump, flatten…  This may serve more to slow down the downhill south bound traffic than anything, but I did see some bikers coming down, hitting the little bumps and getting some air.  So there is a bit for everyone in this chute.  It really is a chute with walls all around.
Before I forget, I would like to say that the vast majority of the path is directly along side the 101 with a concrete barricade and cyclone fence keeping bikes off the highway and cars off the bike path.  On the west side of the path is a series of sound dampening walls that keep the tire noise from annoying the people who live just on the other side.  Good for the residents, not so hot for bikers or walkers going north.  What I mean is that on a hot day, with all of the car exhaust from the 101, the wall sort of keeps the exhaust fumes in the path.  Bikers and walkers need to breathe, and I did notice that I had a hard time inhaling a bit.  Car and truck exhaust is kind of gross.  Overall this is the main (and possibly only) negative of the path.

So back to the steep chute.  Once I got up to the top, I took a quick break, drank some much needed water and took in the view north toward Lucas Valley.  The path at this point is near its end, just a quick downhill section that dumps you out onto Merrydale Rd. another cul-du-sac.  Once off the path and on Merrydale, the hill drops off quite drastically, so you can really get some easy speed and coast down.  It is worthy to note here that Merrydale is a rough road, and skinny tires aren’t very welcome.  Merrydale dumps you out onto N. San Pedro rd, where I turned right and headed east toward the Marin Civic Center.
Marin Civic Center

Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Marin Civic Center was his last commission.  In fact the groundbreaking didn’t happen until after his death.  The design of the buildings and site really hold true to this quote from Mr. Wright.

“We know that the good building is not the one that hurts the landscape, but is one that makes the landscape more beautiful than it was before that building was built. In Marin County you have one of the most beautiful landscapes I have seen, and I am proud to make the buildings of this County characteristic of the beauty of the County.”

- Frank Lloyd Wright

His vision for not distracting from the beauty of the County but in fact enriching it with a collection of beautiful buildings that sit into the hillside and take advantage of the overall site location.

I am in awe every time I get to walk around the Civic Center, or even speed by on the 101.  It is a true Civic Center with County government, courthouse, entertainment, fire department and sheriff, even a post office.  With approachable grounds that include a pond, bocce courts, and some nice hidden gems like the public scenic viewing area I visited.
As a Star Wars fan I also enjoy that George Lucas was inspired by the lines of the Civic Center and featured them in buildings found in Episodes I, II, and III.  With Skywalker Ranch just a few miles away, it is easy to imagine Mr. Lucas driving past the Civic Center on his way into SF or somewhere else.  Anyway, I took some pictures, left the Civic Center and headed back to the path.

South Bound and Down
With the remembrance of the uphill climb heading north still fresh in my brain, I openly welcomed an easy coast back toward downtown San Rafael.  The only thing between that and me was Merrydale Rd.  As I mentioned earlier, this rough dried road isn’t too skinny tire friendly.  It also isn’t too single speed friendly either, at least headed south.  Sure the street starts off easy enough, mild incline.  But then it pitches up at an alarming rate for about a quarter mile.  I almost hate to admit, but I walked my bike up to the entrance of the bike path (where the incline lessens quite a bit).  Before I hit the path again, I sat on some welcome rocks at the entrance and drank a little water, took a few deep breaths and got back on the bike, and pedaled the rest of the way to the top.  Once at the top I looked down the chute and started cranking.  I wanted to hit those little humps and catch some air too, and I did, albeit tiny air.  I don’t like the prospect of getting a flat tire while racing downhill in a concrete chute.  So I got content with what air I did get and kept pedaling.  Ahhh, this is why I rode up this mother in the first place.  My gearing is alright in flats, and up mild hills, but downhill (and in flats) at high speed it isn’t really worth cranking too much.  My legs just go so fast.  I know, someone is going to read this and tell me to get some gears.  But I like the simplicity of my single speed bike, and I do have some bikes with gears, I just use the Crystal as my beater bike, and I have no regrets at all for the single gearing I have on it.
So through the tunnel, up a short hill and it’s a mild downhill run for the next 1.6 miles when the bike path ends, and thus does this post.  But here are a few more pictures I took.


Categories : Bike, Rides

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Tiburon and Toddy

··· Mar 02 2011 · By ···


J and I have been enjoying regular walks along Richardson Bay in Tiburon. There’s a nice flat trail we like to walk on Sundays, when we want something not-very-challenging after a solid yoga session. A few weeks ago, though, we got that “itchy” feeling – the urge to step out of our comfort zone and try something new. A lot of times for us that means planning another major move, but we’re trying notch it down a bit with smaller changes like exploring a new area. So, we decided to head up into the Tiburon Hills and walk around the little white church known as Old St. Hilary’s.

How wonderful that this open space has been preserved for all to enjoy! There’s something special about being up high, with spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay and skyline in the distance. It’s a nice open hillside so no shade to get in the way of that precious winter sun, and the plant life is abundant and diverse. I’ve particularly been enjoying the bold bursts of color from California Poppies and the orange moss that lives on so many of the rocks around here.

The rarity and profusion of plants is a result of the preserve’s geology, which includes steep hillsides of serpentine, level areas of deeper soil and a series of fresh-water springs. With full sun and prevailing winds, the area allows an impressive number of sedges, rushes and grasses to thrive along with attractive and conspicuous flowers.
-Belvedere-Tiburon Landmarks Society

This past weekend we had the privilege of hanging out with one of our dear friends, Todd Martin, “Toddy” as I like to call him, and we took him up the hill for a hike. He’s one of those solid friends you know you can always count on for love, support, wisdom, and a good laugh. Todd and I met when he took me under his wing at the since-closed Ivy’s restaurant in Hayes Valley. In the world of difficult personalities that is the restaurant biz, he was a breath of fresh air. That was in 1996 (15 years ago!) and through the peaks and valleys of our lives, that big-hearted Pisces and I (and J, too) have remained close, no matter how far apart geographically. Todd has faced intense challenges and his perseverance and personal growth are an inspiration to us. His hard work and commitment to a healthy, holistic (and positively contributing) life have created serious positive momentum for him and no one deserves it more.

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Birthday Fun Part 2

··· Feb 06 2011 · By ···

The Dish
Day 2 of my birthday celebration brought Dorothy and I down into the heart of Silicon Valley to enjoy the nice weather, and take a little walk around a nature area called the Dish.  The Dish is owned by Stanford, and isn’t all nature, as the hillside is dotted with a number of different antennas and radio telescopes.  It is named the Dish because of a rather large dish, or radio reflector antenna, that sits atop the hill overlooking Palo Alto and the surrounding area.  We went on a rather clear day, and could see San Jose to the south, San Francisco to the north, and across the bay to the East Bay Hills.I scoffed as we approached the entrance to the trail, as I had read a review in Yelp that said “I love this place! I enter clockwise b/c the first hill is STEEP & and gets my heart going. the view is well worth it once you make it the the top. Great views of the Bay no matter where you are standing.”  It didn’t look too steep to me, but rather appeared to be moderate rolling hills.  Boy was I wrong.  We took the clockwise path (it’s a loop) and Dorothy and I were both feeling it in our legs and lungs.

As we ascended the hill we heard, then saw these little California Ground Squirrels digging around in their holes.  They are kind of cute, but I am sure that they are kind of pesky varmints.  Their speckled fur does its job helping to camouflage them.  As we went on the path we even saw a hawk fly in low while a ground squirrel booked it into one of its holes.

Approaching the dish I was taken back at how big it really is.  You can see its hugeness from all around, but once you are right up on it it’s quite impressive in its size.  One of the three arms that hold the transmitter/receiver thing was cabled down (as you can see from the photos), so the dish was probably going through some maintenance.

There is plenty more to see walking around the Dish, but I will stop here and leave the rest up to your imagination…
Coffee and Music
After we left the Dish and got a much needed cup of coffee and a bite to eat, we headed into downtown Mountain View, to attend a free event at the East West Bookstore.  When Dorothy described the event, I got all excited.  It was a talk and performance by Bruce Manaka and Rick Skalsky who work with overtones and produce a sort of healing energy music through the playing of various bells, bowls and voices (among other things).  There is a meditative quality to the sounds these two produce that allows you to approach various states of consciousness (and sub-consciousness).  Bruce and Rick have a recording they produced, Sonic Ascension that you can buy here. I recorded the event, and decided to post a selection to give you an idea of what these two are getting at in their music.

Bruce Manaka and Rick Skalsky at East West Bookstore
Download it here

We left the book store recharged and ready for the drive up the peninsula, across the bridge and back home.  Not a bad way to celebrate a birthday, huh?

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Birthday Fun Part 1

··· Feb 05 2011 · By ···

When in San Francisco, do as the tourists
February is a great month.  For starters it is a point out here in the SF Bay area when the winter weather can break and produce some great weather, as is the case this La Niña year.  It is also the shortest month, but packed with a bunch of holidays like Groundhog Day, President’s Day Nirvana Day, Valentine’s Day…  If that isn’t enough, it is also the month of my birthday!  As far as things go for my birthday, I tend to like to keep things slow paced, and not get too celebratory.  So when Dorothy asked me what I would like to do for my special day, I said the usual thing that I always say, “Mmmm, nothing.”  That doesn’t work for her, so I am usually greeted with a list of possible things that she has researched for us to do together to honor the day I was born (and the week, and even the month).  Who says you have to celebrate for just one day?  The list this year, the first when we weren’t in Boston in the past 4, featured some things that I have never done, even though I have lived in and around SF for many years prior.  After mowing through the list with her here is what we decided to do.
The Exploratorium is a landmark in San Francisco.  Originally designed by Frank Oppenheimer (brother of atom bomb maker Robert Oppenheimer), the Exploratorium started with just a few exhibits that gave kids a chance to see the action behind the science that they may be learning about in school.  Part museum, part learning experience, all fun, this way of “learning” was pretty revolutionary back in the late 1960s.  But it works, and the Exploratorium soon filled its 100,000 square foot space at the Palace of Fine Arts with a wide range of exhibits that encompasses everything from how energy flows, to how sound travels, to a dark dome that you navigate through using only the sense of touch (the Tactile Dome) and so much more…

Even though I am kind of a germaphobe, I eagerly agreed to visit the Exploratorium just to experience it before they move to their new space at Pier 15/17. What a treat it was too. We spun cranks that made light bulbs glow, turned knobs that caused water to ripple with sound waves, shined light at prisms and watched rainbows appear… I especially liked the magnetism and electrical exhibits, as they all look like they are as old as the museum itself with big chunky knobs and buttons that appear to have come from some magical electronics surplus store.

I plan to return when the new facility is open as well, but I am super glad that I had the chance to see the place in its original home.

Fort Mason
We left the Exploratorium and walked along the Marina Green to get some much needed coffee and a snack at Greens Restaurant in Fort Mason. We missed the cutoff for lunch, and dinner was still a few hours away, so we grabbed some coffee from the Greens To Go counter and headed over to a bench on the dock of the bay where we watched the tide roll away (a quick check of the tide tables shows that the tide was indeed heading out as we sat there). The temps were mid 60s, light breeze and no clouds!

Feeling that we hadn’t yet walked enough, we continued through Fort Mason, passing a number of Exploratorium outside exhibits that are set up around the old fort. One that I like is this viewer that is aimed at the Golden Gate Bridge. Using a long zoom lens and some markings on the screen you can see how much the height of the bridge varies due to temperature. As the bridge heats up during the day, the metal expands causing the deck of the bridge to be just a bit closer to the water. Pretty neat, huh?

Fisherman’s Wharf
We popped out of the fort where Van Ness Ave ends and walked along a beach where people were swimming laps and boats were bobbing around in the water. It was starting to get shady and cool, so we headed away from the beach and walked along North Point St. for a bit, by Ghiradelli Square but soon found ourselves drawn back toward the water, where we became instant tourists experiencing one of the biggest tourist areas in SF, Fisherman’s Wharf. Oh, the smell of fried this and sticky that.

I like the anonymity of walking around a tourist area like that. It is a great equalizer. Everyone is either a tourist, or there to sell stuff to the tourists. If you are walking around with a small bag, just checking stuff out, boom – you’re a tourist. So Dorothy and I were temporarily thrust into becoming tourists for a short while. We watched some of the cable cars get turned around while musicians and dancers vied for our attention (I was more interested in watching the cable car turn around). Head down, no eye contact, and we were through the crowd just looking for something to do.

Aside from visiting the Wharf as a child on a family vacation – we got a big sponge, I have no actual experience on Fisherman’s wharf. That is unless you count skating around the wharf in Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4. But my skateboard was back in Marin, so no grinds along the Embarcadero on this trip. It was all walking, and realizing that there wasn’t much for us to do there any longer, and with the sun rapidly setting, we took some pictures of Alcatraz and headed back to the car, over the bridge, through the tunnel and back home.

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After a ton of rain and many cold gray days in November and December, Mother Nature has been shining some powerful golden rays on us lately.  Clear, sunny, warm days in January are food for the soul and we’ve been making it a priority to get Out and soak it up every day.  Sunday was especially warm and clear-sky’ed so we grabbed Nicole and Sid and headed out to one of our new favorite hiking spots in Marin: Tennessee Valley.  Getting to the beach without the twisty-turny kind-of-long drive out to Point Reyes is pretty cool.  And it’s just a beautiful place.  As the trail curves around and rolls slightly up and down and that first glimpse of the Pacific comes into view, it’s pretty hard not to feel good about life.

The first time we were there, we saw  a really Big slug on the ground.  Big like a (brown) banana.  We also saw what was probably a bobcat but, even with the zoom lens, the pictures aren’t clear – he/she blends into the background.  Cool to see new creatures!

Jeph pointed out that the topography of the beach was totally different than just one week before.  The extra strong tide of this full moon probably made the changes more substantial than usual.  Last week there was a fairly big ridge of sand over to the left which we climbed up to get around the little stream dividing the beach horizontally.  This time there was only a small bit of ridge and it was further left, against the back wall of rock.  The stream was wider and crossing it meant wet feet (except for long-legged Jeph who jumped it with ease.)  After a few minutes of debate, the rest of us wised up and took our dam* shoes off.  And boy did that sand feel good on these feet, so tired of wearing shoes.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

We played on the beach.  Sid dug around in the sand.  The sand here is super cool.  It’s like miniature pebbles and the color palette is pretty hues of gray-blue, rosy-brown-red, and burnt-orange.  I could spend hours just marveling at the rocks and pebbles, and getting inspiration for jewelry pieces.

After awhile we dried off our feet, put the shoes back on and hiked up the side of the hill to an overlook.  This is whale migration season (nearing the end) and we hoped to maybe see them heading south.  No luck this time – we may need go out to Point Reyes next season.  But it was still fun to be up that high, where the crows drop in to ocean winds and float.  Watching them from below I observed their graceful balance of effort and going-with-the-flow.

They are focused and present.  Their muscles are strong and active.  And, at the same time, they are harnessing the power of the universe via the flow of wind – being supported and uplifted.

This reminds me of the practices of qigong, where instead of fighting against opposing energies, you move with them and use them to your advantage. This is wise effort and we humans, as usual, can learn a lot from these creatures.  And that is one of the things I enjoy about being out amongst nature – learning in a natural, intuitive way.

The concept of qi as a form of pervasive energy is a fundamental pillar of Chinese Philosophy. This energy is considered to exist in all things including the air, water, food, and sunlight. In the body, qi represents the unseen vital force that sustains life. Qigong practice involves the manipulation and balance of the qi within the practitioner’s body and its interaction with the practitioner’s surroundings.


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Compost January 2011

··· Jan 13 2011 · By ···

Since we put in the compost bin, there have been some ups and downs.  Let’s see, where to start…


  • It is, in fact, working.  We toss stuff in the top, and stir it around a bit, and there is some blackish, dirt(ish) earthy smelling matter.
  • Bugs of all kinds seem to like hanging out in there.  Most common are the fruit flies and I see ants marching around in there.  The ants tried to store some eggs in there, but I thwarted that effort.
  • It doesn’t smell horrible, really.  There are times, when it has gone too long without turning – resulting in a little ripeness down wind.  For the most part it isn’t that bad.
  • We put bread and cracker type crumbs on the top of the bin when it’s closed so the birds can have a little place to land and peck around, the squirrels probably dig it up there too.


  • The mealy worms that were in there aren’t in there any longer.  This is probably one of the reasons why the breakdown has slowed down.
  • Another reason the pile is not running at top capacity is that it is wet in there.  This is a combination of not enough ventilation, and too much letting water in, and poor ventilation in the compost as a result of just not enough brown stuff.
  • Cheap bin = sharp edges, brittle plastic.  You gotta be careful when you reach into a bin like we have.  Edged with a sharp, err, edge around the opening, reaching in can result in chunks of the back of your hands and fingers being planed off.  I always wear my gloves anyway, but one day I didn’t…  The dig out openings at the bottom have removable doors.  They are held on with 4 tabs each, one has chipped off already

What’s next?
So the plan for it right now is to work some more dry stuff into the mix.  I am going to have to get Dorothy out there one day and help me empty it so we can cut some holes into the bottom so worms can find their way into and out of the pile.  I am also keeping my eyes peeled for some worms.  I might have a line on some in SF or Oakland, stay tuned.

Our garden tool collection has started to grow again, thanks to an unexpected gift from our friend Todd!  We sold our nice clutch of garden tools when we moved a few years back, so we have been needing to get our hands on some tools so we can have fun playing in the dirt.  For turning the pile, and other ground work, a pitch fork, and for general digging around, we got a short handle digging shovel.  (yay)  For our needs this year, that’s a good place to start.  (Update: we had to take the original pitchfork back because the fork part wasn’t connected tightly and it twisted on the shaft as I tried to turn the pile.)

We share the pile with our neighbors, and plan to share with them some of the goodness that the nourishing compost helps us grow as we start to get our garden growing in the next few months.

Whatcha reading?
I picked up Easy Compost (Brooklyn Botanic Garden All-Region Guide) (Brooklyn Botanic Garden All-Region Guides) and it is a nice collection of compost related essays from the folks at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  It’s a nice little book that has great color pictures, and they don’t skimp on the images or charts either.  There’s some history, agood explanation of what you should expect to see and methods and plans for building your own compost container, whatever the size.  These BBG folks are hard core, and know their stuff.   On the output, Easy Compost writers show how to to work your pile for many different types of gardening and landscaping applications.  This is especially good for someone like me who is going to be using the compost for a bunch of different things.

Categories : Compost, The Gardens

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