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, June 22, 2010

Progress, maybe?

I know that many of my friends and readers are decidedly anti-Barbie.  And I get it.  Seriously, I do.  Her cheap MIC plastic molded self, with perpetually lost shoes and clothes that don't fit, with a price tag not reflecting her true cost to the environment, is not endearing, desirable, want-worthy.  Then there are the body-image issues.  I have spent the last 43 years growing up as a woman.  (Well, most of them I was growing up - there were a few sideways years probably.)  I know how body image issues go.  Or maybe I don't, really.  Since Barbie doesn't offend me.  Not truly.  I mean, yeah, the Barbie I grew up with was NOT realistic.  But who thought she was?  I never strove to her "ideal"-- I never thought being a 6' tall size-2 with an 18-inch waist and 44DD boobs was ideal.  Did you?

But I still get "it".   What message is she sending?  What is she conditioning young girls to?  (Just an aside, Raggedy Ann is not very realistic either, nor a body image I aspire to.  Ooh, I hear the sighs.  Well, pretty much ALL doll images are not realistic, realistically.  And my daughters think their stuffed cats and bears are babies anyway -- is it all supposed to be realistic?)  Anyway, these days Barbie has gotten a boob reduction and many of the new dolls come with some big, broad feet (we have surfer Malibu Barbies and let me tell you, my girls are NOT excited that their feet don't fit into the high heels).  Barbie is still thin and smooth and too perfect.  And she is a DOLL!

Okay, so have I justified enough?  No.  I know I haven't.  The MAIN reason my girls have and will have Barbies is because... okay... I love Barbies.  Or, I loveD Barbies.  I cannot imagine my childhood without them.  Like, favorite toy?  Ever?  Yeah.   Hours upon happy hours playing with them.

Okay, so that is all about WHY we have Barbies in the first place -- not the point of my post!

Here at my house, Barbie is a babywearer!  And she has apparently adopted a pig!

This is almost exactly how I found my 3-year old's Barbie tonight when I was cleaning up. The wrap/sling was made, by Gregorie, from a sample of cloth sent to me by an Etsy seller.  The pig was, when I found him, tucked in a little tighter to the boobs but I turned his face so you could all see him.  Actually, the pig is probably a she since my girls have gender issues and all things they love are girls.  Other than Daddy.  And Traveler the Cat.  And Monkey Bunny.  And Poppy.  And Odin and Wyatt.     

 I think they need a Ken.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Role Reversals, Funky Formulas, Summer Salutations, and Piles of Peas

This morning Gregg stewed up some of his awesome veggie laden pasta sauce
while I repaired the Radio Flyer.

When the repair was done and the wagon righted, I noticed these lovely maple leaf shadows:

The wagon usually sits on the patio and holds an assortment of outside toys -- the Yobaby practice boards, the hula hoops, bug tormenting, I mean collecting, jars and magnifying glass, garden tools, fairy accessories, sidewalk chalk...
As I was collecting the items to put them back in the wagon, I noticed this jar full of... um... formula?  Alex is forever concocting magical mixtures.  This one appears to be combination of the husks of malted barley Gregg milled for his beer brew and ashes from the BBCook.  Oh, and water.  

I realized as I went to dump the jar that the ingredients would actually be GOOD compost material so I took it inside and dumped the goo in the compost bowl.   I realize that some readers may think taking pictures of the compost bowl is, um, bizarre?  but I'm proud of my compost!

This is probably NOT what you envisioned when I said "piles of peas":
These are my POLE peas, that did not climb up the poles.  Instead they laid themselves down in a big lazy pile behind the pumpkin pandemonium.  I keep thinking of the neat rows and pretty tipis and trellises I see on the "other" garden blogs, as I survey this madness:

In this photo, if you look closely, you'll see pumpkins, peas, and a volunteer tomato.  All tangled and twisted together. 

That's the blackberry, back there.
Here is the butternut squash, with intruding ivy and groping grapes.
But, the proof is in the proverbial pudding, right?

Oh, I forgot the summer salutations!  Here they are:

And Daddy preparing for more brewing:

Friday, June 18, 2010

A jealous gardener

Sometimes when I read the garden blogs of others (like this one of a friend of mine who lives up on the Central Coast) and see their pictures, I get jealous.  Perfectly pea green jealous.  I have to step back and realize, those gardens are not growing on MY land or with my style of planting and tending.  Today, I actually stepped UP, to the rooftop, and surveyed what my gardens are doing.

Our gardening is constrained by two major factors:  first, we live under a canopy of live oaks.  It's great, we have natural AC and the trees are glorious.  But, our sunny areas for crops are limited.  Second, our property is extremely steep (and rocky).  So, as most of you know, we have carved these lower beds out as terraces.  These beds are pretty shady in spots, so we put in lettuce, chard, kohlrabi, arugula -- things that tolerate the shade.  In the sunny spots, I squeeze in yellow crooknecks and zucchini.  Herbs and borage are perennials (so is arugula and the chard is self seeding at this point).

The main bed is a flat narrow area along the driveway, that gets the most sun.  It is the tomato bed!  On the deck we have some pots and rolling planters.  But the bottom line is, our gardens are crowded, tangled, crazy!

And on the rooftop, we squeeze in some more tomatoes and tomatillos.  

Our tomatoes are flourishing already.  We have HUNDREDS of fruits on our approximate 50 plants.

Behind the tomato bed, oregano is thriving.
The fruit trees are back there too.  Here is the apple and the pomegranate.  A sunflower and a pole pea are snaking up beside the latter.

A green zebra!!!!!

The jungle that was the tomato bed after two weeks untended.

And after the taming:

The fruit are everywhere!

One was even ripe.  But some critter got to it first.
This is the bed with the greens and the peas.
I guess I shouldn't call them "greens" -- this little head sure isn't!


And squash blossoms.
And PEAS!  Actual pea pods.  And it's only JUNE!  Wow, has it taken forever this year!

Yarrow, out/of/control.
And grapes.

Potato blossoms.

An oak leaf hydrangea.

And another:

Some pretty colored coleus. 
And potatoes.  The best thing about these bags is we could place them right under some hanging planters that have drip lines.  Water always runs out the bottoms and was getting wasted.  Not now!