This is the story of our adventures -- every day and extraordinary; our dreams -- tiny and grand; our gardens -- ornamental and sustaining; this is the story of our journey.  We are a family of four living a mindful, simple life here in Los Angeles County.  We are green, conscious, and forward thinking.  We keep an eye on the past because some of the best things have already been done and bear repeating.  Walk and talk with us, have a glass of wine, taste a peach or a tomato, blow some bubbles and watch them drift up over the canyon ridge.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Well, we're headed up to the cabin for a week or so. Packing warm clothes for night time and summer stuff for day. And all the produce!!

The giant pear, all the tomatoes, the melons, the gorgeous peppers, are all homegrown.

The big sister

G: Ooh, Poodle, look at this!
A: Those are decorations. Those are scary, Greggie. They are not for little people. They are scary, Greggie. They are just decorations.
G: I'm reading it Poodle, I'm not scared.
A: Okay Greggie. But they are just decorations. Don't be scared. They're not for little people.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Childhood Treasures

I was just taking a nice relaxing afternoon shower. Alex came running in.

A: Mom, we found a SKULL! A little tiny skull!
M: Is it a rat skull, from a rat that Traveler killed?
A: No, Mom. It's REAL! It's a real skull. It has little tiny teeth and everything.

I went out and, of course, it is a rat skull, with his nasty long yellow teeth protruding. Alex wanted to bring it in the house but she settled on setting it down in the garden. We were walking around looking at the plants and Alex started yelling excitedly.

A: LOOK, MOM! A big caterpillar!
M: Let me see. Yup, it's a tomato horn worm.
A: Oh, it's so cute! Let's take it inside!
M: Um, no. It's dead and we should leave it out here.
A: Does it eat lots of tomatoes?
M: Not anymore!
G: They are not that bad.
M: You gotta be kidding? They can completely defoliate a plant in like a day!
A: It's so cute. Let's put it with the rat skull.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The lions never seem to sleep at my house

The girls also painted while I canned

They painted the cloths in the kitchen where I was working and then Alex took them to the hot tub to dry. They picked leaves and flowers and placed them themselves. When they were dry Alex exclaimed, "The towels are done!" and brought them in.

What I did today

And what the girls did while I was canning. Yes, Alex put that on her.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


We have been enjoying the delicious tops all summer but I had given up on any sort of beet actually forming. I was surprised today, when I went to get some greens for dinner, to see purply red roundish roots protruding above the soil! They aren't going to win the price at the county fair but they are here just the same!

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

Yesterday we hiked in the Inyo National Forest, in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. The Bristlecone Pine is THE oldest living thing on the planet. Some of the trees are close to 5000 years old. They are not grand and impressive like the sequoias, rather humbly short and gnarled. Gorgeously elegant in the way your 110-year old grandma would be. They endure. And it shows. The young trees are vibrant and green. And they look tellingly naive next to their ancestors. Alex loved the trees. She found hidden shapes in their twisted trunks, roots, and branches -- "Look Mom! That one is a pirate ship! That one is a claw! That one is a gargoyle! It has wings and eyes and long arms!" But when I asked her which was her favorite, she said, "Oh, that really beautiful soft one. The one with the green branches. The really little one." The splendor of youth.

The trail we hiked was 5 miles at over 10,000 feet. BREATHE!!!! OMG I started out carrying Greggie and Gregg carried Alex, each on our back. A mile and half in Alex wanted to hike so Gregg put her down and hike she did! Two brave miles of often steep and always treacherous terrain at 10,000 plus feet! Greggie stayed on my back for another half mile before she thought, "Hmm, Poodle's not in the backpack. I wanna be in the backpack!" So, she came off my back and onto Gregg's at mile 2. At some point she fell asleep. She and Gregg hiked ahead of Alex and I, as we stopped to observe the shapes of trees, to chase imaginary mice, to play Dorothy and Toto. At mile 4 Alex could go no further. I put her 35+ pounds into the Beco and finished the uphill mile and half. It hurt. I was slow. But when I finished, with her sound asleep on my shoulder, I felt good and strong.

Wooly Mammoths

We just spent a few days in Mammoth Lakes. Gregg biked down the mountain and the girls and I played in the village, went in the pool/hot tub, visited an earthquake fault, and generally hung out. Alex is very curious about the wooly mammoths. She wants to know why they don't exist anymore.

A: The wooly mammoths are all dead?
M: Yes, honey. All of them.
A: No Mom. There is ONE wooly mammoth still alive. There must be.
M: No, I'm sorry. None.
A: Did the tigers eat them all?
M: No, the sabre tooth tigers didn't eat them all. In fact, the tigers probably all died because the mammoths did.
A: Why did the mammoths die?
M: Mammoths like ice and snow and.....

Later that day we visited the fault and she became convinced that the mammoths all fell in. I don't know, maybe she's right.

A girl and her dog

Greggie loves to take "my Stella" for a walk. I worry that Stella will pull her over or trip her but generally Greggie does pretty well walking her dog:

Friday, September 12, 2008

Flying like a bird

Holy short vacations Batman!

Back from a couple days camping and now I'm off, solo, to Vegas for 2 days/one night. Will post lots of camping stories and pictures soon enough. Just a teaser:

Monday, September 8, 2008

The tomatoes are in!

We are now picking the ripe ones faster than we can eat them. I actually canned all the San Marz and some of the others today -- just two quarts, but nice homegrown stuff. The girls still keep up with the grapes pretty well -- fresh from the vine at picking and then at each meal.

I thought these two were just picture perfect!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The pleasures of the flesh

We eat a lot of chicken -- roasted whole birds, bone in/skin on thighs glazed and grilled, rotisseried game hens. Almost all of our recipes involve some wonderfully crispy skin, which Mother and Father both love. We love it so much that for years we did not let Alex even TASTE it, lest we should have to share. This is not very like us. We deny our children little. But SKIN????? So, tonight, we had the thighs. Usually Alex is content to eat off the bone. Gregg gave her her own thigh. She ate the skin and said, handing the now naked limb back, "I don't like this part. I want more skin." Gregg said to me, "Wait! When did she even LEARN about the skin." I hung my head in shame. I conceded that in a weakly giving and maternal moment I had let her taste the delicacy. She was instantly hooked. But, alas, HE was the one who gave her the thigh in all its glory, n'est ce pas?

Forget about your worries and your stripes

Those of you that read regularly know that my girls have been on a Jungle Book/Bare Necessities kick lately. They now run around the house singing the song. WE-elll, their variation:

Look for the bare necessities
The simple bare necessities
Forget about your worries and your stripes
I mean the bare necessities
Old Mother Nature's recipes
That brings the bare necessities of life

They also sing, "Koona atata! Koon atata!"

Just one minute!

This is Greggie's current catch phrase. It is always said with her arm extended straight in front of her and her hand held out like a traffic cop yelling, "Stop!"

If she wants to nurse: Please, Mom. Just one minute. It's okay. Just one minute.

If she has my lipgloss and is running across the house: Just a little bit. Just one minute. I'll put it back. Just a little bit. Just one minute.

If she is jumping on the bed: Just one minute. I'll be careful. Just one minute.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

800-thread count

Yesterday I washed my sheets and hung them to dry on the line. When I carried them in they were crisp, fresh smelling, and sparkling white. Alex said, "I'll help you make your bed." And she did. She smoothed the fitted sheet as I pulled it around the mattress, tugged the flat up to the top and lined it all up (nice and anal like her mama). Then she said, "UUUUUMMMMM! These sheets smell good! These sheets FEEL good! UUUUUMMMM!" and climbed in and laid there smelling and rubbing them. Finally she said, "Mom, these are NICE sheets!"

I love her.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Romance Redux

So, tonight: teriyaki pork tenderloin, jasmine rice with walnut oil and slivered almonds, sauteed tatsoi, another attempt to have a lovely moon/candle-lit dinner.

Greggie, as usual, dressed for the occasion:

And somehow, back to this: