Saturday, October 20, 2012

First month as a Californian

It's been a little over a month since I arrived in the Golden State and I'm officially a Californian. Having never officially moved to another state before (even when in PA I never changed my license), I had no idea just how involved it would be to switch my identity from WA to CA. I've been to the DMV no fewer than four times. Gone is my favorite license plate number of all time; gone is my sweet WA state driver's license number; instead I have California plates and ID, neither of which I prefer. The CA DMV crops its photos real close, y'all. At least I passed the written test! And, the best thing about my new license plate is it has a Z in it; I hope one day in the not too distant future two kids are battling it out to win at the alphabet game and my car's Z is the victory letter for one of them.

You didn't think I was going to show my driver's license, did you?

I also had to change my car insurance, renter's insurance, health insurance, and theoretically voter registration but I'm actually going to vote in WA this year (gay marriage needs my vote more than GMO labeling does). I got a local credit union account, and one of these days it would be nice to change my Seattle-area phone number.

All this is to say, I better stay here for awhile because moving is a real pain in the ass.

Here's what I've done in the last month.
Stopped by the Giant Pumpkin weigh-off in
the Safeway parking lot.

Whitney and Sara at the pumpkin weigh-off. This one weighed
580 pounds! Carson says there's usually one that's 800.

Rode the Garden Project's "smoothie bike" at the Co-op's block
party. My buddy Natalie holds it down while this stranger
gives me a hilarious look. (This was across from the pumpkin
weigh-off on the same day; very convenient.)
Attended the Local Women's Music Festival at Nelson
Vineyards in their beautiful Redwood grove. Performing
here is Ede, one of my favorite local "raging grannies."
Visited the breathtaking Saracina vineyard north of Hopland.
They have caves you can tour! Sent my parents a delicious
bottle of Chardonnay for their 39th wedding anniversary.
Wine tasting at Saracina. (Sara and Timin nearby.)
Drove up Cow Mountain with Carson to see the remnants of two
fires he was on this summer. You can see Clearlake in the distance.

Tried to go abalone diving at Fort Bragg, but the cold weather
translated to a picnic on the beach with Sara.
Planted a winter garden with David and Janet. Brussels
sprouts, broccoli, kale, beets, lettuce, radishes, and carrots.
Our persimmons are starting to change color! 
Made green tomato pickles (and green tomato chutney).

Went to Doc's 92nd birthday party on October 18, a talent show in
which Jay and I performed "Jose and Esmerelda," a running skit
from the summer about a fighting Latino couple.
Roped Sara and Ian into starting a puzzle with me on Wednesday...
...and David and Janet into finishing it with me on Friday.
I've also been doing lots of volunteer work with The Gardens Project, helping them plan an event on  Monday called "Farmer's Night Out" and translating a lot. Today I'm going to be the translator for a garden workshop on hoop houses and row covers at the Mendocino College. I'm also doing "real" (i.e. paid work), officially ending my seven month unemployment streak. The work is fun, though; a variety of writing and editing projects to keep me busy and not bored. 

The hot weather stopped yesterday and today we're down to the 70s with the rain predicted to start early next week. However, I just walked to the farmer's market and they had a bounty of strawberries, so it still feels like summer.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Nesting in 100+ degree weather

It's October, a month I usually associate with fall leaves and dipping temperatures. However, Ukiah's atmosphere doesn't share my sentiment since all three days in October have broken 100 degrees (and a few records, apparently). September was equally hot and they're saying it's the hottest fall on record (and by "they" I mean two men in front of me at the bank). The weather here really is pretty crazy. For instance, check out this snapshot of the weather on Monday. It didn't quite hit 106, but it did go from 54 to 100 in a matter of hours.

Luckily my new house stays nice and cool, except when I'm baking, which has happened for the last six consecutive nights. What can I say? It's good to have a kitchen again. Here's a pumpkin pie I made from a pumpkin I got at the farmer's market, which is just one block from my house every Saturday.

And, since I haven't really shared any details about my new digs, here are three one-minute videos of my house (small enough so I could text message them to my Mom, who was the inspiration for these clips).

I live with a cool dude named David who I met through the farm this summer. Here we are breaking in the backyard, with Whitney giving Janet some bright pink highlights.

One of the many great things about this house is that the backyard is bursting with food! Here is a fraction of the tomatoes I have harvested over the past two weeks. The best part is, the red ones are incredibly good - sometimes even home-grown tomatoes can be mushy or not flavorful, but these ones are mouth watering sliced with a bit of salt. I've also sauced a lot of them.

Over the course of my adult life I have furnished six homes, and then sold for a fraction of the cost (or just plain given away) nearly everything in that household only to start again within the next few months. It's a bad habit. So, although I had a trailer full of stuff to unpack in Ukiah (three cheers for finding and keeping good kitchen stuff) I had virtually no furniture. For the first four nights I slept in a little nest I made on the floor. I shopped every furniture store, thrift store, consignment store, and garage sale in the greater Ukiah/Willits area, and found absolutely nothing that I wanted in a price range I could afford. So, during one of Carson's off days, I talked him into driving to Santa Rosa so I could buy a bed and one other large piece of furniture; possibly a sofa. Instead I found a sick deal on a great futon, so I came home with two beds; one for me and one that serves as both couch and guest bed. Here's Carson tying it all down; I love that this picture manages to make him look short.

Here are Sara and Whitney breaking in the futon (earlier this night we had four of us comfortably snuggled up on it watching a movie - definitely a good investment).

We're still missing dining chairs and I need a desk chair and night stands, but otherwise we're in good shape!

Since arriving back in Ukiah I've wasted no time in getting busy, including volunteering with The Gardens Project. On Sunday I helped them with a 5k at a gorgeous winery down the highway in Hopland called Jaxon Keys. This is their expansive wrap-around porch:
Here is a view from one of the vineyards:

I imagine that after a few years of living here the grapes will lose their romance, but for now I'm still infatuated by these juicy orbs:

I also went to a pizza birthday party at the farm, where they made their own dough and cooked them in the beautiful outdoor cob oven. Here's Nick, one of the birthday celebratees, making his own pizza:

Yesterday Carson had some work to do on his hives, so I took a book and sat back while he worked. Here's a picture I snapped while he wasn't looking:

And hey, since this post is all over the place, here I am eating Mexican empanadas and a hibiscus-flavored snocone at my new favorite spot:
 Until next time!