Thursday, July 30, 2015

Willing to Slow it Down

It was a busy spring. I was working full-time, going to school (evening certificate program), volunteering several places, plus I moved into a new place and went to Mexico in the same month. I love having a full life, but I don't like always being busy.

Hanging on Lake Washington

I've come across articles about our cultural obsession with being busy and wearing it like a badge of honor, such Busy is a sickness and Disease of being busy. In the latter, author Omid Safi writes, "Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence."

Sometime I feel too much like a human doing. A big part of that was being in school, and always having classes and homework. I loved the editing certificate program, but man! it's great to be done.
Homemade cake for our last day of editing class

Cocktail: Rye with- wait for it- reduced Rainier beer
simple syrup. Weird, but delicious.
I haven't had any epic adventures yet this summer, but that's okay with me. Bigger trips are coming up (very!) soon, and so far it's been rejuvenating to have the time to hang with family, especially my nieces and nephews, cook meals from scratch, and get good sleep.
Don't get me wrong-- I've been doing more than just hanging out. I've been playing outside, but just trying not to over-plan or rush from one thing to another.

Bike ride and golden raspberries
Downtown view from the Seattle Great Wheel
Hiking Mailbox Peak
Evening sailing, cider, and swimming in Lake Union
Niece helps me water my deck plants 

Friend's family goats. I really want goats.
How do you find the balance between exploring all the wonderful things there are to do in this world, and not overdoing it?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Beacon Food Forest: 2015 So Far

What has Seattle's Beacon Food Forest been up to in the first half of 2015? A lot! We continue to maintain the trees, shrubs, and perennials already in place, and plant new annuals in the veggie beds. The monthly work parties are going strong, in addition to smaller work parties, classes, tours, and community dinners. I haven't been taking many pictures lately, but luckily a fellow volunteer has. Big thanks to Jonathan for sharing beautiful photos.

Photo: Jonathan H. Lee //

Photo: Jonathan H. Lee //

Mixing cement
Photo: Jonathan H. Lee //

Releasing lady bugs
Photo: Jonathan H. Lee //

Work party morning stretch
Photo: Jonathan H. Lee //

Early spring seed exchange
Photo: Jonathan H. Lee //

Watering starts
Photo: Jonathan H. Lee //

Me teaching a compost workshop
Photo: Jonathan H. Lee //

Making seed balls
Photo: Jonathan H. Lee //

Spring planting
Photo: Jonathan H. Lee //

Chard harvest
Photo: Jonathan H. Lee //
Planting in the Common Thread garden
for sharing with the local community
Photo: Jonathan H. Lee //

Evening fire at the BFF
Photo: Jonathan H. Lee //

Taking a tour of the site
Photo: Jonathan H. Lee //

Jonathan H. Lee //

Arbor entryway
Photo: Jonathan H. Lee //

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Memorial Day in the San Juans

I think the tradition has been going on for almost 30 years. Every Memorial Day weekend, my extended family gets together on family property in the far corner of the San Juan Islands to do a spring cleaning work party.
Kids' collection of rocks and beach glass
Saturday we set to work, and I was assigned to fence duty for my first time. Our crew walked the fence line to check for damage, and repair any sections of barbed wire that need it.
Some sections of the fence needed a lot of work
I also got to hang with a lot of awesome relatives, including sweet cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Youngest nephew
Oldest niece, with the greatest hair
San Juan view

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Big News: A Volunteer Grant to Mexico

It was during my initial HR phone screening with a recruiter from my work when I first heard about the Volunteer Vacation Grant. I couldn't believe the company offered a grant to support international volunteer work for one employee per year. It just added to the many reasons I wanted to work there.

Fast forward a year and a half to last December, and I applied for the grant and got it! It is a huge honor and I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity to combine so many things I'm passionate about: my job, volunteering, international travel, and food.

When I first thought about where I wanted to go, I considered going somewhere really far away that I had never been before. But when I was honest with myself, I just wanted to go back to where my heart was: Mexico. I've been there 3 times since 2005, and can't get enough.
The last time I was in Mexico was in 2009, and I volunteered with the same organization I will be working with on this trip.

It's called PESA, which stands for Proyecto Estrat├ęgico de Seguridad Alimentaria (Strategic Food Security Project), and is a program of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

My good friend Josafat has worked for them for nearly a decade, and is now based out of their headquarters in Mexico City.

But when I was there in 2009, he was in the small city Tlapa de Comonfort, in the southern state of Guerrero. From Tlapa he would take day trips to rural communities all over the state to help implement and evaluate food infrastructure projects.

Josa and I in Tlapa de Comonfort, 2009
Corn storage, Guerrero, 2009
Helping with community corn de-graining, 2009
You can read more about my first time volunteering with PESA, and the end of that same trip in this post Making Tortillas and Running up Pyramids.

Well, I guess we are going backward chronologically. In 2007 I spent the end of my last quarter of college living with Josafat and his girlfriend, and teaching English in his grad school. They lived in Cholula, a really sweet little city on the outskirts of Puebla City.

The adjective of a person or thing from Puebla is poblano, and indeed, it's where the dark mole poblano originated. That month I did my ESL certificate teaching practicum and ate a ridiculous amount of mole poblano.
The view of smoking Popocat├ępetl from Cholula
View from our front door of the
cathedral atop the Pyramid of Cholula
My first time in Mexico I spent 5 months in 2005. I studied abroad for a quarter at the Universad Latina de America in Morelia, Michoacan, volunteered on organic farms, studied Mayan ruins, and met my dear friend Josafat. How did I meet him anyway? Did I really get college credit for traveling? Find out in this post 10 Years Since Mexico.

I'm leaving this week to fly into Mexico City before spending next week volunteering in rural communities. More to come!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Birthday Weekend

I'm ostensibly another year wiser, and for sure another year older. This year, birthday weekend was also Easter weekend, and it was a fabulous couple days with my favorite things: family, friends, good food, and hiking.
Miri's amazing salad with foraged greens. Photo by Matt.

Max baked a loaf of bread the morning we went to
Mailbox Peak. It was still practically warm at the top.

Birthday champagne in the snow.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

An Early Spring in Western Washington

It's been an incredibly dry and warm winter, and I kept expecting winter to actually hit. I made a valiant effort at being wintery, and made sure to eat lots of waffles, cheese, and cookies.
My friend from Texas actually has a
Texas waffle iron
My roommate turned 30 and had a birthday
party with 30 different kinds of cheese
A roommate was on a low-carb diet, and
proceeded to bake lots of cookies and
muffins and ask us to eat them.
I also went on a Marsala kick. What's more wintery than cooking with wine? I made Chicken Marsala, Marsala-poached pears with vanilla ice cream, and a mushroom Marsala pasta bake.

Try as I may, winter never actually came. It's been consistently mild with barely any snow in the mountains. Local meteorologist Cliff Mass called it The Winter Without Seasonal Affective Disorder. Maybe I'm ungrateful, or a glutton for punishment, or just a true Pacific Northwesterner, but I don't feel like I've earned spring yet.

But nature didn't take my sentiments into account, and it's actually been acting like spring since about mid-January. Rhododendrons were already in bloom, and many other flowers followed.
A few weeks ago I rode my bike along the waterfront in downtown Seattle toward Magnolia, and over the Ballard Locks. It felt like summer with all the people out and about, and all the boats going through the Locks. Check out these pictures from our Golden Gardens picnic-- you would never know this was February.
 Now that it is really almost spring, I'm pretty excited to start getting outside more. What are you looking forward to this spring?