Saturday, March 31, 2012

update from the beginning

i got an email today from the Parypa family, who i met on the way to the vipassana course where i began this trip! here is what the mother, hannah, wrote:

Update on here: we have added sheep for milk (currently milking 2 ewes and have 5 lambs out of them) and built a number of raised beds in the garden. A woman who works with a local program encouraging/training troubled youth to become involved in agriculture recently stopped by and asked if they could do a field trip to our house to show the kids that if an average family like us without a lot of property can do it, so can they! That's encouraging on both sides.

Our curious upside down structure was not exactly a huge success last year; it was a fun experiment but it may come down this season. Or we may try half as many plants and a heavy layer of mulch over the soil surface instead of planting with beans. We'll see...

biking and tenting it

found: stakes for tent (various rusty metal rods/heavy wire), bungee cord, sunglasses, apple snacks (kirkland freeze dried, 5 small pouches), nice leather gloves

i stopped for the night just short of pearlington, MS. i got water and used the rest room in the morning at cajun encounters. nice folks there. the place i set up the tent was near there at an old home where nobody was home. i set up on a soft, oakleaf bed by the driveway. the guy cme through in the morning and i was nervous about there being a confrontation, but when i introduced myself and said 'sorry for disobeying your signs(no trespassing)' he was like, 'i guess it's okay.' and went on with his business. he didn't need any help.
boy was i glad i had the tent because the mosquitoes were big and plentiful there!


in the morning at the swamp tour place i met an old guy from georgia and his wife. when he walked by me and my bicycle he said, ' i always wished i had done something like that when i was your age.' that made me want to talk to him. we chatted for a while... he has been involved with disaster relief for the past twenty years. said i could stay with him if i came through his area, central georgia. i probably could have gotten a ride with him if i'd wanted to, but decided i wanted to keep riding, or i was suppoed to.

found: glasses, wrenches

at lunch i stopped at CJ's Meat Market. i always find these jems! got some yogurt, a lemon, and a half pound of frozen calf liver. the woman who i checked out with spoek with me on her smoke breaks while i had a leisurely lunch of the sourdough bread i made, cheese, and salami. she gave me a package of awesome vegetable chips! she said she has recently put in her notice because she wants to devote more time to her garden at home! i felt inspired to point her in the direction of the weston a price foundation and gave her my blog url too.
there was beautiful mint growing right there in front of the store. she said i could pick some. i ended up keeping it fairly fresh for a couple days by keeping the stems in water in a plastic bag. i bruise it and put it in my drinking water and even got to make tea with it that night with hot water in the gas station store by where i camped!
this place i camped was just before biloxi. when i was starting to really look for places, i saw a scraggly looking guy crossing the road towards me with his bike. he told me a good place to camp would be right in the woods over yonder. pointed out the path to me which would lead me to the clearing. another relatively soft spot next to big oak trees.
just after i set up my tent a couple guys came walking through, keith and pa. they used to camp here. the homeless folks were having a party tonight they said. they were taking a break from the drunken debauchery. pa used to live in the french quarter. he said, "you used to see people having sex in the street, and people would just walk by. i liked that. you know?" yes. i think i do.


found: towel, pants (barely to small)

went into the goutier thrift store to buy some swimming shorts. as i was about to leave the owner, carolyn, came out and asked, "what was your name? my friend wanted me to as your name." i had wanted to give her the blog url and here was the opportunity. then she said she wanted to share something with me and to follow her back inside. she told me a story of how she had been kind to some travelers on their way to new orleans, and showed me the post card they had sent her from there. i felt truely touched. this is the hoop, and the economy of generosity, and the hand of god at work. we then chatted for fifteen minutes or so about holistic living topics! the friend of carolyn's who was there helping recieves clothes in exchange. beautiful!

at the border crossing into alabama i sat on a huge cube of granite, on top of which was written in sharpie:
PSALMS 109:10
'let his children be continuously vagabonds, and beg; let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.'

i'll write more later perhaps on how i relate to this... maybe you have your own ideas.

the landscape changed dramatically as i rode into alabama on 90. instead of a big highway with ocassional strip malls, it was a smaller road with little gas stations and stores more frequently. a smaller town feel. farms interspersed. more of an old feeling. i stopped in one town at a produce stand by the road. a woman who stopped at the same time bought some local strawberries ahead of my purchase of two mississippi cucumbers. this woman pulled over in front of me several miles down the road and offered me some strawberries! her name was anne and she said she would hope that people would do the same for her children if they were in my situation. she also gave me four dollars. thank you mama!
i continued on with increased vigor, popping fresh strawberries one by one from my handlbar bag.

stopped for a break at 'johnny's mama's kitchen' and wished i was stopping for dinner, because it felt like a really good place. the oldtimer there was cool and advised me of a place in mobile to eat, called 'david beaks'. i didn't end up going there though. i got a pound of medium-sized shrimp from a place that i think was called crab king? anyway it was great because they had all the seafood fresh, on ice, right there in front and would take it in back and steam it up for you in a tastey butter sauce. i had them put it in a yogurt container for me, even though they still ended up dirtying a styrofoam tray and plastic bag. i was able to put a couple leaves of collards in there with the hot shrimp and steam them a little. i found a nice oak tree later to enjoy the meal. i think the pound ended up being nearly three dozen individual shrimp! very filling and fun meal, for 5.49.

after the meal i filled water at a nearby gas station and used it back at my camp site to give myself a little bath, using my new towl to dry off well. then i meditated in the tent and went to sleep.

i slept in back of a house i thought was abandoned. rain all night, but i didn't get very wet thanks to the tent. just a couple small leaks. but the rain did interupt my sleep. the tent was upon oak leaves for extra padding again. i burried the shrimp debris under a thick layer of leaves.


still raining in the morning. i was worried about getting wet. meditated and then ate breakfast in the tent, hoping the rain would cease by the time i was finished. it did!
i rode through the historic oakleigh neighborhood of mobile, where i saw beautiful houses dancing with huge oak trees with limbs almost completely covered in little ferns!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

heart of NOLA

after shopping at the coop one day i saw a couple of people outside i thought might know a friend of mine who had moved from seattle, named lisa. they did not know her, but we got to talking and i mentioned song circles... wondered if they knew of any. nope. but their friend mathew might. when he came out of the bathroom he greeted me with a warm hug. he told me there was an event that night called candlelight kundalini, after which there is usually musical collaboration. what luck! i was feeling so good with these new friends that i asked if they would like to learn the song i made up, "rainbow warriors". i wrote down the lyrics we sat in a cricle right there in the entryway and sang it! this was the initiation of this song into a new level of being shared. i felt so joyful and gratified! the girl anjalaya took the lyrics so she could share the song with others.

that night i had a wonderful dinner with my hosts, gary and cathy, in which i shared a miso soup and winter squash, and they shared beef filet, scallops, and salad. we held hands at my request and blessed the meal.
after this i headed over to participate in the after-yoga singing. it was a very stormy night, but i got to the place just before the rain started coming down again. the sharing began with me playing mbira. the other two guys there joined in with voices. i then improvised some mbira as we transitioned into a jam. most of the time i played guitar and mathew played mandolin. i shared the raw chocolate heart my sister had give me in austin. it was divine! we stayed up late, ending the evening in conversation, and i decided to stay the night there. my sleep was broken largely due to the storm of rain and lightning through the night.
the next morning i attended meditation at the other studio, which is owned by the same people and is on the other side of the block. these folks offer meditation and yoga by donation. the place drew me, as i felt i could benefit from what they offered. part of my work is to cultivate clarity and strength of spirit so that i can do the other good work i want to on this trip.

saturday i attended a capoeira angola class at the kundalini studio. after the class i went with the other student that was there to lunch. i'd heard that i should try the boiled crawfish, so we bought five pounds of them at a a place on broad st. called Broadview Seafood. we conversed about various urban sustainability topics (he is majoring in urban studies) while eating the spicy, nutritious, locally sourced crawfish from a plastic bag. all the debris i later deposited in a pile of leaves nearby the garden i was helping out at the next day. i hope that some day this compost will be used to grow food.
after lunch i was on my way back to the yoga studio when i came accross an opportunity to help. i'd been thinking as i rode along how the nutrients of so many leaves are going to waste in the streets when they could be applied as mulch. then i noticed one property where they were doing just that! i stopped to check it out and met the owner of the place sandra, who was working outside with two guys. she offered me some water and i offered to help with anything she needed done. i cleaned out the clawfoot tub she has outside as a fountain and helped move her broken television out to the curb. she had purchased a brand new flat screen that she said would also be used to show videos to the kids in her class at the nearby high school. she teaches the kids there once a week about plants. they are going to build a community garden there!

sunday i went to yoga at the kundalini center and then helped out at the garden of this woman who is using a lot a few paces down from there. i had noticed the gate open a few days before when i left the studio and asked if i could help out there. she had beautiful chard and kale in full production and other crops recently planted in raised beds. fruit trees line one fence and a chicken run is in the back corner. that way i helped support tomatoes with twine, prepped a bed for planting, and removed bermuda grass from the edge of a beds. ramona wants to develop the project into more of a farm than a 'community garden'. she believes it will all run more smoothely that way. she shares the produce with the land owner, neighbors, and sells some at farmer's market in the lower ninth ward.

i didn't go to the french quarter, the heart and soul of NOLA, until i'd been there almost a week. this area of the city has such FLAVOR! it is wonderful to me how it is dominated by pedestrians, not by cars (though there are still too many cars). the horse-drawn carriages, narrow streets, and old buildings make it feel like a european city. this is how it was before cars. people seem to really dig it, but it is not seen that the way the majority of us live destroys this kind of dense, culturally rich neighborhood. i'm so glad the french quarter is there as an example.
the first time i just rode my bike through. then i went back the next day to try busking with the mbira. i only made two bucks, ehich may be because i had bad timing and didn't pick the right spots. i still had a pretty good time and many people seemed pleased by the music. one woman from chicago did a whole photo shoot of me. i saw some other folks busking who i would have liked to donate to.
i rode down bourbon street. what a spectacle.
turns out someone is making a film involving the french quarter... funny that i heard about this within the week after visiting there my first time.

on saturday and sunday nights there was vibrant heart and soul being shared at the healing center, where the coop is. at this 'sacred music festival' i sang, danced, and listened to some wonderful music. there was one space offering an open expression space, which was mostly used for silent, improvisational dance. i did a very short butoh-style piece, which was my first time trying this outside of a workshop i did once in seattle. much of the other sharing reminded me of butoh. the small audience sat in on cuchions in a half-circle and gave their loving attention.
i got to see one of the new orleans indians in his bright, beaded, feathery regalia. when i asked him whether he felt tradition was being brought back in this time he said it never left new orleans, and for sure it is alive these days.

monday i made sweet potato pies for brennan's birthday. i tried to catch her at her house but they had gone out to the bar, so i caught up with her there. she was rocking the internet juke box and i watched a game of shuffleboard. there were some nice looking folks outside eating ice cream and i decided to offer them pie. they invited me to come sit by the fire in their back yard when i was done at the bar. i did and it was very nice to connect with these people.
the next day i tried to meet up with one of them at satsuma cafe and ended up running into a friend from orcas island instead! dana was there, and told me she and nicole, who i know from the bullock's permaculture farm, are now living in NOLA since a couple months ago. she had met brennan earlier in the day at the blueberry farm i had helped out on the previous week. the yoga studio the she attends in the one i was going to attend a voice yoga class that night! i was being shown what a small city this is when i hook into the community. to top it off, the next day this guy john who was one of the people at the house with the fire in the back yard, who i was going to meet up with at satsuma but missed, is friends with the voice yoga teacher/jazz singer sara and saw her the morning after i enjoyed the evening song circle at swan river with her. wow.

there is so much more i want to share with you! every day was full of so much wonderful activity that i did not have time to write. much of my time at the house was spent in the kitchen, as usual. i made sauerkraut and bread while here. i also got to build the base for the compost pile here! i used leaves as the carbon material, but gary has access to sawdust, which i told them is one of the best materials to use.
cathy planted tomato and eggplant starts on the sunny side of the house while i was here. these are next to some recently planted citrus trees and perenial herbs.

i saw so many vacant lots going wild with green. a lot of food could be produced in this city if folks got together and worked towards the vision of local resilience and health for all.
i did not know my new orleans experience was going to be so centered around spiritual practice and celebration. this is an important part of the healing!

Monday, March 19, 2012

grand NOLA

arriving late in the evening with my rideshare buddy mike, we were greeted with a funny situation of the house of our host being used for some scenes of a low-budget film. every time they did a take we were asked to 'settle in' and be 'quiet on the set'. i found it humorous, but it did get very late and we were getting a bit tired of it when we finally got to go in and settle in for rest. mike, who drove all day, was at the end of his rope.
andrew and his housemate brian were very kind to let me crash at their housefor three nights and use the kitchen. my first day in new orleans i went to city park with mike and andrew to toss the frisbee a bit! dream come true. some folks were playing a pickup ultimate frisbee game and i decided to join in while the others went off and did their own thing. i had a lot of fun and met some sweet folks. one guy invited me to stay with him if i needed to during my visit!

the first folks i contacted regarding volunteer opportunities in new orleans were common ground relief. i found them through the profile of one of the members on when i was searching for folks to stay with. they ask $20 a day to cover expenses of temporary volunteers, so i decided not to room and board with them, but i did go over there on my second day in town.
that day i had the honor of being part of the very beginning stages of a community blueberry patch in the Holy Cross ward. there was sand blowing in our eyes and the work was strenuous, but i was really happy to be there. one task i performed was pounding in with a sledge hammer the two-by-four stakes that hold up the walls of the new raised beds. it is a lot like chopping fire wood. just the kind of workout i had been in need of.
through my hard work as a volunteer that day i impressed this man who was also helping out there, a local carpenter, who said he might be able to give me some paid work. the next day i worked for him on a house he is renovating! in the middle of the day there was a downpour like i have never experienced before. the kind that soaks you to the bone in five seconds! thunder and lightning nearby too! it was great. we sat inside and ate lunch, then worked inside for most of what remained of the workday.

i also found the new orleans food coop, which is conveniently located near to the places i have been spending my time. they have a decent selection of good quality salt in their bulk herbs and spices department.
after going into this store many times during the visit i finally ran into an old coworker from the coop i worked for in seattle! AJ Neff is a hard worker with strong leadership skills. she is helping get this New Orleans coop flying.

another group i hoped to work with while here but did not hook up with is nola green roots. i found them when searching for online community gardens in NOLA on my first day here. each time i was going to make my way to their headquarters something else came up. wasn't meant to be.

i heard from edible schoolyard NOLA that they are too busy to give me anything to do. seems funny, but understandable i guess.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

traveling for love

On Saturday, my last day in Austin, I was interested in making more attempts at busking and selling the bracelets I make on the street. Recently I’ve started incorporating washers that I find while riding the bicycle around. I found a lot in Austin. The more weathered the better I feel, but sometimes a shiny one has another kind of character.

First on the days agenda though was to catch the farmer’s market. I made it to the last fifteen minutes. Bought some parsnips and tight little heads of cabbage from johnson's backyard garden, who had the most awesome and full produce stand. Just as things were closing up i was attracted to a stand selling compost and other organic fertilizers. I chatted with the guy there, who is a landscaper and sells these products for a company south of Austin called microbial earth farms. When i told him i am trying to build a compost pile every place i visit he said that he puts in a compost pile in every landscape he designs. It is not optional he said jokingly. Even if the homeowner doesn't maintain the pile it is bound to have some benefit for the surrounding soils, we agreed.

After the market I went over to whole foods, a few blocks away, to try my luck making some money there. A band was playing in their little courtyard and also kitty corner at a record store venue, so playing the mbira was not going to work. I sat and worked on a bracelet with my little display of finished ones sitting next to me. One girl asked if I was selling them and when I told her I was hoping to receive $10-15 for one she retreated and did not come back. It was nice to be noticed at least. There was a nice guy who took interest in what I was doing and asked about my trip. He said he and his friends take advantage of all the free booze, food, and music of this festival and have a great time. He recommended that I make a sign saying I was traveling. More people might donate if they dig my story. Where would I find the makings for a sign…

As I rode back towards the main action of sxsw I remembered I had seen this big public mural being painted and thought I might find paint there I could use to make a sign on a peice of cardboard. I found it, got a piece of cardboard out of a nearby dumpster, painted a pudg on the wall (dedicated to moebius, who recently passed away), and then painted this sign. It read ‘TRAVELING for LOVE, THANKS for DONATIONS’. You know what I mean right? Well, there are nuances for me that may not translate, but I liked the simplicity of this wording.

I joined in the march and immediately started beaming even more than I had been before. It felt good to be with these expressive people who were willing to speak out together, advocating peace. I realized during the march that I was blessed to be in a position to just step out into the street and join in. many people are in a vehicle, on a schedule, or have some obligation to fulfill, which makes it difficult to be spontaneous.

The walk was not long down congress and then over to city hall, where we arrived to enjoy performances by various wonderful musicians. Soon after arriving there a woman came up to me, handed me $10, and with a smile and nod walked off. The sign had worked some magic! I then ran into the hula hooper who I had first met in Santa Barbara!

Friday, March 16, 2012

funny farmy friday

i had a great beginning to the day and a kind of weird second part. the farm i volunteered at was quirky and lovable. the people were very relaxed and kind.

i got up really early this friday so i could make it to green gate farms by 9am, the beginning of their work day, or at least the beginning of the volunteer's. i thought i was going to be late, but i got there just a couple minutes before nine! on time for once! i started off with wheel hoeing, then i helped with transplanting some tomato plants and getting produce ready for CSA pickup. the moisture level of the soil was great for hoeing and i felt happy and strong. i enjoyed the conversation during transplanting, and the group dynamic was humorous to observe during CSA prep. the others went to lunch while i finished up washing and bundling the radishes. when i sat down for my lunch in their circle they were just finishing up with some appreciation/ feedback for the owners and managers of the farm. it was a wonderful feeling in the circle and i felt honored to be there to observe this. the group that was just finishing up there was some kind of jewish farm group from NYU. after these folk's lengthy departure i stuck around to help out for a while longer. i decided to take on the repair of one of the wheel hoes that was dirty from the day's use, had a flat tire, and needed lubrication. at green string farm in the fall i never got around to doing the tool repairs that i wanted to do, so this was a taste, finally, of that kind of satisfaction. the folks of green gate farms told me to take as much produce as i wanted, and even some eggs! i took one egg, just to see how the yolk compares. the vegetables i chose were various greens, carrots, onions, beets, radishes, cilantro, thyme, and rosemary. i saved aside some of the onion roots i had trimmed to add to the soup for extra flavor.
the farm was getting prepared for having guests at and evening film screening event, which i should have stuck around for... why didn't i? guess because i felt i already had plans for the evening and nobody invited me. wish i had realized what an opportunity i would be missing!

the ride to and from the farm was really good. i do feel comfortable on the bicycle, my black dragonfly. today at the farm i lubricated the chain just before leaving. that is the main thing i need to keep up on for the well-being of the bike. other things come up less frequently. i cleaned off some of the grime today that has accumulated in the undersides and crevices of the frame. in tucson and phoenix the distances always seemed farther than they looked on the map. but here in austin it has been the opposite. maybe it is just the size of those other cities that create the illusion... when you look at the whole thing on a map it doesn't look any bigger than a normal city.

i rode to the venue where i thought laura gibson was playing at 4:30. it was empty. there had been a mistake in the information online. then i decided to ride over to whole foods and on the way get a better idea of what this SXSW event looked like. the crowds thickened, just as i had heard, upon entering the blocked-off downtown section where the bulk of the festivities are held. there was a notable vibration of anarchy. bicycles flitted everywhere and people of all types crossed paths. there were two or three different kinds of music in the ears at any time. sometimes one would dominate.

at whole foods a woman selling jeans outside complemented the butt patches i recently sewed on my riding pants. could she be as serious as she seemed? or was she just trying to legitimize a good long look at my butt?

on the way back from whole foods i stopped at one intersection where i heard music coming from an upstairs venue. it was mixing almost evenly with the less appealing music playing at the 'geisha room'. i listened to two of their songs, thinking the female vocalist sounded like it could be laura gibson... hard to tell for sure. just a little ways down the street i came across an incredible band playing on the sidewalk with a little crowd of people digging them. they were called grupo canalon de timbiqui. they gave me that really good feeling with their rhythm. it is a quality hard to find in the american performers dominating the big and small stages of this festival. they brought us this magic right on the street, where anyone passing by could stop and appreciate it. like me! lucky me! i got to be there for two of their songs before riding off, leaving the crowds behind.

back at the apartment i enjoyed time alone, but felt a bit antsy. i made soup after eating a dinner of leftovers. just felt the soup couldn't wait. thought i was going to be making soup for walter, my sister's ex-boyfriend, and i tonight, with beef stock, but he took an extra shift and won't be home until i am asleep. he has incredible endurance to be working this much on very little rest. i want to feed him good food so he can get through it without getting sick. i put yogurt in the cooler for the night, had some tea, and meditated before going to sleep.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

mbira can resonator

in order to increase the volume of the mbira for street performance i decided to try using a large can attached to the back. i thought i would find some kind of food can, but instead got this paint can from the dumpster here at 'the metropolis', where i am staying in my sister's apartment. to my amazement it worked out to use the handle of the paint can to attach it to the mbira! what could be simpler?
to top it off perfectly, the color of the paint in the can was the same as this special shirt i will be using to perform (busk) in. how about that!

my first time busking with the mbira was on thursday night. the first guy to make a donation said with a smile, "just make people happy." after a minute i noticed that the bill he had given was a ten! that made me happy, which helped me to put out the positive energy towards other people. a pretty woman with tattoos donated a dollar, which gave me a total of $11 for the couple hours i sat there. a very kind, fairly pregnant, japanese woman came and sat next to me to rest for a while. her support also gave me a boost. i felt like she appreciated what i was giving. she tried playing the mbira for a minute and commented, "that's hard."

>my sister ruby shot these fine photos to show you<

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

new life in austin

i got a rideshare with a fellow from L.A. named alex. as we approached austin it got greener and greener.
my first day in austin, monday, ruby and i rode bicycles over to barton springs for a dip. we did not go into the 'pool' area but instead enjoyed the water with many others just below that area. there was more water flow due to recent rains and it made for an exciting and challenging swim.
on the ride home i followed the impulse to lay out in the luxuriant clover. it is an incredible experience to suddenly have bright, emerald green filling my vision, after a couple months of dry desert environments. my sister says this has all grown quickly, just recently after some big rains. before that this area too was barren like the desert. gives me an idea what the monsoon season must be like in those arid regions i passed through.

the dried sourdough flakes i have been carrying since tucson finally came in handy. i made a batch of bread on tuesday afternoon. in this batch i used about a quarter cup of mesquite meal. it added a nice flavor and helped the culture to become more active.

this is the first time i have ever braided my beard!

i went in to east austin to check out some sxsw scene on wednesday afternoon. my search for an alley to pee in led me to this outdoor venue surrounded by a beautiful stone wall. as i looked over the wall i noticed hula hoops!

libby, one of the hoop dancers, is going to buy some land and start a farm in nevada county, california. when i told her i was into composting she inquired almost immediately if i was into composting toilets and humanure composting! um, YEAH! i told her that the method i like to use is the bucket method, combining all the compost (food scraps, humanure, weeds...) together in the same pile. she said, "that is the way people do it here mostly." i neglected to follow up on that by finding out who, and if i could meet them! i was just too excited to think straight i guess.

a young boy (about 12?) who was hooping when i arrived, and also playing with the practice poi he made, liked the mbira. he said it sounded like the forest, the sound of water... "like nature itself". he said one of his life goals is to ride around the country on a unicycle, and another is to live in a house that he will build himself. it would be in the wilderness, 'probably on someone else's property', but surrounded by a wall of shrubbery that would hide him. then the army recruiters would not be able to find him if world war three breaks out.
his job was to hand out kettle corn to all the people at the event. he offered me some, but i declined, explaining that i don't eat refined cane sugar. he brought me a box anyway and said i could give it to my sister. very sweet. i could feel his giving spirit towards me.

Friday, March 9, 2012

windy las cruces

paul gave me a ride in to las cruces, as he had work there on monday. i had found a host through he said i could use his computer, so i went straight there instead of getting dropped off at the library. i believe adam's place would be called a town home. it had a very small back yard. he had just recently given his compost pile away.

spent batteries were a more common sight on the ground in las cruces than in any other place i have been on this trip. i felt saddened by this.

after making contact through e-mail i rode almost every day over to fairlight community garden and helped out a little. this is where i brought all the compost from adam's, since he no longer had a pile.
the wind was intense. it was tolerable in the earlier part of the day, but would increase to an oppressive level often by noon. while there i did things like mulch the fruit trees, pick up trash, tidy up drip line and chicken wire, and build a compost pile. i was most excited about that last one, and i did that on the last day there. the garden had accumulated a lot of donated materials, but they were mostly in separate piles and not being watered. hardly a 'compost pile' by most standards. so i made one in the back corner, incorporating the most abundant green material around at this time, the wild rocket, who i had first met in tucson and fallen in love with. the other plant growing abundantly in some spots was vetch, a pretty, nitrogen-fixing ground cover. it was cool to see how much more plant growth there was in the lower pathways between the raised beds. sunken beds seem very effective in desert environments like this one.

i also engaged with the community of folks who receive aid there and are living in the temporary tent camp next to the garden. they took notice of my presence in the garden right away. some folks thanked me for helping out. some asked what they could do to pitch in. i told them it would be really helpful to have many hands picking up the plastic debris, some rather small, until it was all removed. one day a few people came and did this after an effort by a couple folks to rally volunteers. there are so many people just sitting around during the day, i thought maybe there would be more turnout for this worthy cause.

bicycle bob, vikki, mick, and dublin were some of the fine individuals i met there.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

silver city to TorC

basically i rode a little over thirty miles towards hillsboro, where i had hoped to stay the night, and still had a long way to go when dusk dropped and it began to get very cold. there was snow on the ground and ice on the roads. i didn't know how much farther it was or if there was more climbing to do. after a short break i was about to mount up again when i heard a truck coming along in my direction. i stuck out my thumb as it passed. a little ways ahead i saw them come to a stop! what a relief! they ended up giving me a ride the rest of the way to TorC. as we proceeded through the gila national forest i saw that i would have had a lot more hard climbing ahead of me, and many more miles before hillsboro. it did look like a nice little town, as i had been told, but i was happy to be getting farther along. the ride in the back of the pickup was strenuous during the curvy sections and very cold once we picked up more speed. i ate some toasted squash seeds to stave off my hunger until arrival. these nice folks, on their way back from a basketball game to the albuquerque area, accepted my $5 for gas and wished me good luck. i am so blessed!

in TorC i stayed with a friend of kristin's named paul. it came together just at the last minute. when i discovered what he was doing at his house it felt like destiny again. he was doing rainwater harvesting using earthworks! this is something i had been wanting to learn more about and get my hands in since tucson. since paul was going to be driving to Las Cruces on monday i had a day to spend at his place helping out! that day i did just a little digging on one earthwork and spent more time on building the base of his brand new COMPOST PILE! it made me really happy when he said 'maybe i could get my neighbors to donate their food scraps...' YES! that's the way.


wolf the traveler
hitch to TorC

Friday, March 2, 2012

silver city

the song circle at javalina cafe in silver city (the locals call it 'silver') was a most pleasant way to be welcomed. one nice guy there said i could come to his place for the night if i didn't find any other accommodation. i had thought i would be staying in the tipi of a woman i met at winter count, but she had been overwhelmed with guests and suggested i try this place called 'the bike house'. i had been told by someone else from silver that i could probably stay there, and i thought i could get hooked up with this place through the local Bikeworks. i thought i'd swing by the food coop, maybe hit the library, and then head up there as they were opening up at 5 this evening. the coop was closed and on the way to the library i ran into the friends who i'd traveled with from tempe to fort apache, lauren and eric! they were on bike with two others riding in the opposite direction. their friends were leading a capoeira practice that i then attended. they agreed to give me a couch to sleep on for the night. i went and spent a couple hours 'parting out' a crappy bike at bikeworks with one of the young kids volunteering there. nice scene and i was beaming when i left. back at the house we watched the documentary 'dirt' and got to bed late.

the next day isaac contacted his friend at the bike house, who happened to be their landlord! they gave me the guest bed in the puppet studio loft for the rest of my stay in silver. it was a very cozy spot and some mornings i had this curled-up-squirrel feeling of comfort. i cooked a lot while there and enjoyed the wood stove a few nights. one night i made soup on the wood stove, a nostalgic activity i don't get the chance to perform much while traveling. one night the living room was filled with musicians of a band one of the housemates, tim, is in.
the night i arrived ben made this amazing batch of rustic european style sourdough bread. some of the best bread i've ever had. the last day there i made a batch of sourdough using his starter. decided to take a whole big loaf for travel food.

the day after my first night at the bike house i went back to isaac and alinna's place to see if i could help with getting their garden started. i helped build a compost pile and spade one bed for their first plantings of greens.

one thing that had attracted me to staying at the bike house was that it looked like they could use my help with the garden. what i ended up doing was just some tidying up on the side yard, where there was a mess of firewood, and rebuilding their compost pile, which was not being managed properly. the main problem was that dirt had been used in place of carbonaceous materials. this had led to anaerobic conditions, which was most apparent when i began digging through the pile to rebuild it. i layered in a bunch of leaves and dry skeletons of annual plants from last year with the anaerobic soil and food scrap mixture.
the leaves i got from a property on the corner of the block. the guy who was doing the pruning there said i could collect all i wanted of the dead ivy debris. he was taking prunings from this job to an arroyo, where they would be used for erosion control. i was pleased to hear that. so much of this stuff just goes to landfills. this guy andrew was happy about it too. he and i had a really good exchange. he seemed to dig what i was doing.

through ben i was connected with the guadalupe montessori school community garden. there i dug out bermuda grass for a few hours one day. the first thing i noticed when i walked into the school building was a sculpture hanging in the corner by the front door of a child coming through a hoop, with vines twining around the arms of the child and the hoop, connecting them. to me this was a strong support signal and i found it beautiful.

i did get around to checking out to coop of course, which was a nice, smaller store in the downtown area. alinna, who i stayed with the first night, works there. they had a pretty good selection of bulk and produce and provide grass fed meats in the freezer. i got some beef liver. i was even able to get straus milk, from which i made a great batch of yogurt cheese!