Sunday, July 31, 2016

Wild Fermentation

Granted it doesn't take much these days, but this is the most exciting news I've had for awhile. The bible of lovely fermented foods (pickles, kimchi, yogurt, kefir and more) has been revised and available for sale in mid-August.

I knew there was a reason I've resisted paying $25 for the original edition in local stores. And never say that my Twitter addiction doesn't pay off. The author is someone I follow, and he sent this around an hour ago from his publisher. Complete with a $10 discount for pre-order. Didn't take me long to place that order. Skid marks on the credit card.

Other than that -- a damned dull few days.  I haven't had much energy, or enough sleep. Whine. That doesn't lead to long bike rides. Perfect weather today -- door open all day, lots of breezes, not too hot. Would have been a great day for cycling, BUT we have plenty of those days ahead so not to worry. I'll be back out there when my body is ready. Whenever that is. Really need to find something to do with all the hours I'm not on the bike. Boredom leads to eating, and that leads to fat. Not good! My roommate encourages me to do my fermentation stuff or whatever I want in the kitchen, make myself at home, but so far, I'm not into it. Also waiting for some pickling cukes to hit the local farmer's market.

What else? Need to find something or it's going to be another long few months. Don't get me wrong, this is a lovely place to live. There's just not much to do here other than what TV I can get with an antenna. Is it any wonder I cling to Twitter for fun?

Friday, July 29, 2016

Dog Days of Summer

How's the heat wave where you are? Other than yesterday and today, it's been pretty moderate hereabouts. And headed back that way tomorrow. Thank goodness!

I've mostly hidden out inside, and mostly been glued to YouTube watching the convention proceedings all week. Some fascinating people speaking, every day, all day.

But, I took time out yesterday morning to head out in the effort to complete that bicycle loop I spoke of last time, and I made it with ease. Not speed, mind you, but without a lot of angst and discomfort.  Turned out it was a little longer than I had estimated -- 11.2 miles, according to Google Maps -- but that was ok, too. I wasn't worried or I would have checked to see how many miles it was before I left home. Made it in 1 hour and 22 minutes, which is certainly slow, but steady. I don't care about speed, never have. I'm out there for fun and there's no need to rush fun. Nor the 74 year old, out-of-shape muscles that were doing the work.

I've found another, longer, route in the same area -- simply another crossroads further down the pike -- but that's around 16 miles and I'm not ready for that yet. I'll be content to stick with 11.2 for awhile, as I build these muscles back to fighting shape. And that'll happen -- is actually happening fairly fast. After all, it's been barely a week since the first ride in almost two years, so going 11.2 isn't anything to be embarrassed about.

Plan to head out tomorrow and do it all over again. Hopefully, a bit faster.

Other than that, I'm going to hide inside where it's cool for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Cycling in the summer

So -- summer continues and the temps rise. Hitting the high 90s here later in the week. We do have AC in the house, although I rarely use the one in my room. But with those temps, I may have to give in.

My bicycling escapades also continue. Been upping the time by 15 minutes per trip. Or, at least that's been my intention. Yesterday I was planning to up it to 1 hour, from the previous 45 minutes, but ended up doing 1 hour 11 minutes. Rode out 30 minutes, turned around and rode home. That method generally will give me the overall time I want, but not this time. Turns out I had a tailwind going out (thought I was just getting stronger when it was so easy!), didn't realize it until I turned around and had a headwind to battle all the way back home. Slowed me down a good bit -- taking tired legs into consideration. Funny how the headwind/tailwind effect doesn't always work the other way around. I've ridden out in to headwinds countless times, thinking I'd have an easier ride home with the tailwind, only to find that by the time I turned around the wind had shifted and I had yet another headwind to ride into. That somehow happens more often than not.

But that's ok. My legs are getting stronger and will continue to do so as I continue to get out there. It's all in conditioning. Tomorrow I plan to complete a 10+ mile loop I've found. Was close to halfway through it yesterday before I turned around, so don't have any fears I can't make it. I've edged up to it gradually -- scoped it out from the other direction on Saturday, but didn't get to the halfway mark, certainly. And really, I was probably only 4.5 miles at the most into it yesterday, but that's close enough to know I can do it.  So early tomorrow, off I'll go.

Not much else happening. Just life.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Tackling the yardwork

My roommate got home around midnight,  had to go to work at 8:45 this morning! She didn't realize how tired she'd be, or she wouldn't have scheduled it. It's nice to have her home and we did a lot of gabbing this morning, probably certainly more to come. I did manage to ask her a question as she was leaving, about some yard work that needs to be done. She gave me the go-ahead.

There are tons of Shasta daisies in the front yard, but they are rapidly seeing the end of their season and need to be cut back. So I decided to tackle that, with permission. Thought I'd get a lot more done than I did, frankly, but it's a good start. I'd had a 20-minute walk through town and am still having issues with the small of my back, so I didn't want to push it too much. Some is good -- stretches and uses those muscles -- but it's easy to go from good to overdone. I'll get to all of them, eventually.

Also pulled up about a half dozen garlic plants out there that had dead stems and leaves. So now, we have some lovely fresh garlic to use for awhile. I'll let them dry and such before bringing them in. Well, all but one, anyway.

Good to have yard work to do. Good to have anything physical to do, rather than sitting around watching TV or the computer. Had planned to ride the bike again this morning, but opted to wait another day because of back issue. Again, at this age it's better to be prudent than sorry.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

At last!

No pics, but why and how would I take one? I felt like jumping up and down with glee, but instead I hopped on my now-perfect bike and went for a 30 minute ride. After the body issues with only 12 minutes a couple of days ago, it seems wise to work into this slowly. This body is not as young and agile as it once was.

Loaded the bike on the car this morning and hied myself off to my favorite bike shop, downtown. 10 minutes and a mere $25 later, I left with a new rear tire and tube and without the toe clips. Ready to ride!

I can't imagine how it happened, but there was a deep lengthwise gash right in the middle of the tread about an inch long that probably went through and ticked the tube. Tis a mystery, but it was there for a fact, nevertheless. I saw it. I had the toe clips removed because -- referring to the first paragraph -- I'm neither as agile nor have the reflexes I had in prior years and I remember a couple of years ago I felt really uncomfortable using them in town -- barely got my feet out of them in time to stop myself from falling when I'd stop. So, it seemed prudent to remove them. I'm certainly not trying to go faster or conserve energy for long days in the saddle any longer.

On the way from here to Eugene I noticed the bike bouncing around on its carrier, which was a bit disconcerting since the road is a good one, no bumps. The rear end -- the heavy end -- bounced almost to the end of the support, twice, and if it managed to bounce off the barely-tipped-up end of that support, I'd have a problem. So I stopped and put it into the holders and strapped it down tightly. You might say I should have done that in the first place, but I drove from Georgia to Oregon two years ago, taking it off every night, and I don't remember ever using those holders. Just putting it on the rack was enough. Another mystery.

So -- it is clear today that the achy back muscles from the first ride were indeed caused by the bike, because they were complaining pretty quickly after I got home. Or maybe, which I also thought possible, they were caused by lifting that heavy bike up onto the rack both days, twice today. Either way, I'll keep riding. The body will adjust. I'm too happy out there to care. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

The bicycle saga

Wish I'd done a real 'before' pic. I did a half-assed cleaning job here the other day, after cleaning the inside/trunk of my car. Realized more work was needed, plus some lube.

After a good bath this morning.

One of these days I really will get a good ride on this bike again. It's been a process, and it's not over yet.

After the half-assed bath a few days ago I went in search of my favorite bike lube, couldn't find it on this end of town. A good friend brought some to me yesterday, so this morning I took some good, sudsy water and an already-dirty rag out there and did a decent, if not perfect, wash job. Dried it off a bit, tried to use the pump my ex-roommate gave me, and either it didn't work or there was operator trouble. Either way, little or no air was getting into the tire.

Then, I got my bike rack out, determined to remember how to put it on the car -- which took less than a minute. Last time I tried this, the day I moved from the last place, I couldn't figure it out for nuthin'.  Can you say stress and fatigue? It's really pretty simple. Took it down the road to a gas station, put air in the tires, but there was no gauge and I didn't want to blow one of them.  Drove home, bike now pretty dry, lubed the moving parts, took off for a test drive.

It felt so wonderful! I noticed that the rear tire was a touch low with weight on it, but thought it would be ok. Took off down the country roads that I love to ride, looked again and saw that it was significantly lower. Turned around and pedaled home fast, since I was too lazy to walk it home. Tried to use the pump again, just let out more air. Bummer!

So now, one of these days soon, I'll put the bike on the rack and take it to Paul's Bike Shop and have them take a look at it. Not sure why it should be leaking -- tires and tubes should be good and it hasn't been ridden in well over a year.  It's been stored in a dusty, but otherwise safe, carport, nothing that should make a tire go flat. But  -- the experts will fix it up and maybe they can answer another question or two while I'm there.

The big ride lasted all of 12 minutes, and while I'd like to have kept going, I'm thinking it was probably good that I didn't. The body already feels a bit stiff and sore here and there, so easing into it like this was a good thing.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Summer Bounty

First wild blackberries of the summer!

There are many things to love about living in Oregon in the summer, especially in or near rural Oregon, but the wild blackberries may well top my list. When I first moved to Corvallis 20 years ago I accidentally found wonderful places to pick them -- just piles and piles of vines, open to the public. And I picked plenty.

These big babies are at the end of the road, a whole block away where there is a big farm with young sweet corn growing. The berries are along the road that goes around the farm. I walked down there with the dog a couple of days ago, to check them out, found that they were just starting to ripen, with the vines along one part just loaded. Picked a few, ate them as fast as I could pick them.

This morning, I walked down there again prepared. No dog (picking is serious business and the dog doesn't understand), and a big plastic colander to hold the bounty. Actually, I was surprised that nobody else seems to have been there before me. But -- first come, first served. They've been there a couple of days, at least. These should satisfy me for awhile, and there are plenty left that should be ripe in the next day or so. And lots more left to ripen before summer is over.

So, these babies -- some of them, anyway -- will become cobbler later this afternoon, just in time for dessert after pizza. It's best served warm, after all.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Home again

Fog fingers wisp into the nearby hills as it settles over the valley one of my last mornings in Napa. Nothing but a sea of white below us, wisps of fog where I am, blue skies above

Finally! In my new home in the sweet city of Coburg. When I first saw this room, it was utterly charming. It's still very pleasant, but having me move my big chair and ottoman and bookcase into tight areas didn't help, plus I'm using my own linens rather than hers, which were much more charming. Still, I'm happy to be here, and it will look better as I get things a bit more settled.. Happy to have found a roommate who is warm and friendly, generous and kind. A friendly dog and cat, to boot.

I arrived yesterday afternoon, enjoyed a nice family dinner, crashed early. Then, my roommate and her daughter left for Pennsylvania around 8am. She'll be returning in about 10 days during which I'll be able to chill out, rest from the traveling, and get settled and comfortable here. Really, I am already settled and comfortable. It didn't take long, with such friendliness, but there are lots of little details left to come together.

Somehow, the bath has remained charming, as I made few changes other than using my own linens and things. The best thing about it is that it is private -- all mine to use and I don't have to go out in a shared hallway to use it.

There's a door out to the patio, and this is the view from that door. It stays open most of the time, although that may change on warmer days. Today is a bit overcast, although very pleasant.

I took a short walk through the neighborhood after lunch, and hope to take more and longer ones in days to come. Also hope to get my bike cleaned up and ready to ride soon. It will be good to be back on it.

Friday, July 8, 2016

My week in photos

 Sunset from the deck in Napa early in the visit. Tonight should be even better, as there are nice horizontal clouds out there.

First view of the house after a long, steep driveway (my car has to go in low gear to get up it!). It's kind of hidden in the trees and the beauty of its design, wrapping around the rock outcropping and blending into its surroundings. But an awesome sight at this point. That wing on the right is the guest wing, with my room at the very end, jutting from the rest. To the far left is the big front deck, where I spend most of my time, reading or staring at the scenery.

All rooftops are planted with native flora of some kind. This is the guest wing, where I'm staying, with its lovely view toward San Francisco, which I could actually see this afternoon from the deck! Clearly identifiable - the big Bank of America building on its hill, and lots of other skyscrapers in appropriate places plus a hug, ugly thing called Sutro Tower that is unmistakable. I finally convinced myself that I was seeing something else, but my friend wrote from Berlin that yes, I probably did see all this because it is all visible on clear days. It was really awesome, for me. Couldn't stop looking.
One of a contingent of 3 monks from Abhayagiri Monastery in Ukiah, offering their help and support for some painting in the new meditation room at the new Dhammadharini Monastery. This is an awesome clay paint, second coat, which is going to be beautiful. Dry color is the lighter color.

 A couple of bhikkhunis taking a break from painting in the side yard.

Another monk working on the high window, also in the meditation room. This back wall is yet unpainted, will also be clay paint but a slightly darker color than the other walls.

My awesome ride for the week. A new Prius that was a wonder to drive. I kind of wanted to bring it home with me, but didn't think the bhikkhunis would be willing to trade.

This beautiful wall hanging was hand-painted on fabric, then edged and backed with fabric, by one of the Abhayagiri monks and presented to Dhammadharini as a gift.

Close up of the painted portion. What a beautiful and appropriate gift from the monks to show their support for the women's new monastery.

Another thing I fell in love with was a new Canon Rebel camera that had been recently donated. That is what took this awesome photo in the back yard of the vihara one morning. l-r, Adhimutta Bhikkhuni from New Zealand, Sobhana Theri, Prioriess;  Sudhamma Theri, visiting from North Carolina;  Suvijjana Bhikkhuni, resident; Dhira Bhikkhuni, from Germany.  Missing is our abbess, Ayya Tathaaloka and the young samaneri (a nun who isn't fully ordained) who was at the hermitage. When you consider that there are only 10-12 bhikkhunis residing in this country, to have seven in one place is just awesome. I've certainly never seen that many at one place at one time.
It was quite a week, and it's not over yet. I was supposed to return to Eugene on Thursday, but it's now Friday and I just returned to Napa after a few days at the monastery. My plan had been to drive over there (in Sonoma County) on three days to help them out. Second morning I showed up and the lay person who had been doing the cooking and driving had not shown up that morning, and they couldn't reach her by phone. She had been living at the new monastery location, while the bhikkhunis were all at the existing vihara that night. I quickly prepared and served them some breakfast, drove them to the new place and found that the lay person had fled, lock stock and barrel. Probably the previous day, after she was left alone there in the afternoon. She left a brief note that didn't say much. I (and the others) knew she was stressed with the work and had been before I arrived.  That's why they'd asked that I work with her in the kitchen, help her learn the ropes and make the work easier for her. I think it was too little, too late. It's hard job, without doubt. I've been stressed at times too, learning to do it.

So -- I went home that night, packed a bag, drove over and moved into the new monastery for a couple of days, doing all the cooking and transporting between the two locations. Lots of driving, but then, I was driving that sweet new Prius and was transporting some awesome women from around the world, so it was pretty cool. Tiring, yes. But cool. I slept well.

Today, more people were arriving and they are in good hands for awhile, so I returned to the lap of luxury this afternoon to rest up (read: be lazy) for a couple of days before heading back to rainy Eugene on Monday. I am so glad I was there, not glad that the woman felt compelled to leave but glad I was able to fill in for a few days. They give back far more than I give them. Always.

The sun is about to set. Good night, all.

Sunday, July 3, 2016


View from deck

Good morning from Napa, everybody! It's my second morning here, and I have to say it's been a bit of a ride so far!

The night before I left Eugene I had a really good, sound sleep and woke up with all the angst and tension of the past month gone, happy and well-rested. Almost bouncing with unaccustomed energy. That made for an easy drive south. The good weather didn't hurt. No rain to limit visibility, or wet pavement, or ice, or any of the weather possibilities that make driving that stretch of Interstate less than pleasant. Easy peasy.

From gas station in Weed
It didn't hurt that the mountain showed itself in full glory as soon as I started down the California side of Siskiyou Pass. There is a moment when the road rounds a turn through the mountains and there is a long southern view from a great elevation. And there it was. Clear blue skies, not the first wisp of a cloud hiding the summit. always a glorious sight that never gets old. I've passed this way many times over the last 20 years, by car, Greyhound and Amtrak, and the best part of the whole trip is the sight of that mountain for hours, wending my way south and even in my rear view mirror long past Redding. With apologies to Lassen, there is only one mountain in Northern California, and that's Shasta. Morning is not the best time to photograph, as light is behind. But still gorgeous!

Shasta Lake was almost full, for the first time in years. That was so great to see. And they are building new bridge over a wide span of the lake, alongside the current bridge. Looks like it's going to be a beauty when it opens.

Arrived in Napa with no snags and in good time, although it took a hour and a half to cross town and make three fruitless stops searching for a particular wine I wanted. Never found it, but of course I was able to 'settle' for something else. Got into the house ok, settled in. Put my computer on the desk/counters in my friend's office, and not 10 minutes into using it I heard a loud 'crack' and when I looked, there was a 6" crack in the thick glass underneath. Presumably from heat -- the darned thing always runs hot, but I didn't think it was that hot. So I moved it to the granite kitchen island and propped it up a bit for circulation. All seemed well, I downloaded all my photos and after an hour or so got up and did something else for a few minutes. When I came back, the screen was black and the thing would not (will not!) turn on. It seems to be deader than a doornail. So much of my life is on that thing, that I feel kind of lost without it. Fortunately, my friend had left me the passwords to her laptop and new iMac. I wouldn't even have a clue how to turn on the iMac, so I'm using her old laptop. Slow, but I'm grateful to have it. And all my photos other than the above are on the dead one. I actually copied this from a tweet I'd sent out before it died, or I wouldn't have that, either. Alas. Update: apparently the battery just ran low! It was plugged in, but I'm guessing that the plug was dead and I had no way of knowing that. Moved to a new plug this morning to try and troubleshoot, and it started right up. SO happy to have my stuff back!

I had gremlins with me, clearly. I couldn't get the big TV in the den to work.  Turns out my friend had given me wrong info on using the remote, since corrected, and it works fine).The garage door opener she left for me to use doesn't work (but I can get in and out with entry codes and manually pushing door open/close buttons), and when I got into my car yesterday morning to drive into town there was a very disconcerting, loud clicking/knocking sound from under the hood while it was idling. I've never heard the first sound from that car other than the engine purr, so this is a bit scary. Fortunately, when I started driving it went away, and I hope it doesn't come back. I need a healthy car in order to get back home, after all.

Today I'll be driving to Sonoma to help my bhikkhuni friends. I should probably get started with that pretty soon, actually. I hope the gremlins are finished with their pranks.