I must admit that I'm really missing "home" for the holiday. I always get sad and lonely over here in CA on the Christmases when Sealion works. So I'm bustling around getting things ready for a Christmas I can enjoy here. Today I started with a huge homemade mocha ~ with milk and cream, cocoa and coffee, and cinnamon, cardamom, cayenne, and nutmeg. That helped. Now there's Anjali's present (a d-o-l-l ) to put the finishing touches on, molasses sourdough proofing in the sunshine, and a wine glass to be replenished. For dinner: brisket, mashed roots, bread, and a wilted salad. Peanut butter cookies for Santa. Christmas lights sparkling. Very fortunately, Austin is sticking around, so we can cozy up around the fire and be silly together while Papi works his 12 hour shifts.
We met Austin in the city for what has turned into an annual decoration-viewing tradition. We begin at Johnny Foley's Irish House for food and cheer and then tour Union Square ~ with its huge tree, and ice skating rink, and Macy's windows ~ lights and figurines that move and SPCA kittens and puppies up for adoption(!). The grand finale is hot chocolate.
Yippee! I presented my problem to Bloggers "Help Forum",
"I accidentally erased the sidebar while working on the HTML. It shows up when viewing individual entries, but not the blog as a whole.
"hbl" suggested I re-add the gadgets on the Layout>Page Elements page. So...
When I go to the Layout>Page Elements page, all of the gadgets are still there. I clicked on each, saved it again, then clicked View Blog, and still no sidebar. If I click on an individual post's title, then the sidebar shows up."
and eventually Aviatrix's suggestion helped:
I took out the post that caused the problem in the first place! (And then replaced it with a duplicate.)
Now my blog is all better. : )
Well, except that it now has a new color scheme. But I don't mind it that much.
Well, I thought adopting a new template would maybe bring the sidebar back, but it just erased my color scheme. This one will do for now. I have posted a question to the Blogger tech-savvy folks, and hopefully someone will respond, "oh, ha ha ha, you non-tech-savvy blogger! The solution is so simple! ha ha ha!"
If any of you reader friends knows what I can do, please let me know.
I hate working with the HTML anyway (it's all computer-speak letters and numbers and slashes), and when I write a blog from my phone (which I just became capable of), they turn out wonky, so I tried to change it... and seemingly irrevocably erased the sidebar.
I love Christmastime. In spite of my non-Christian anti-materialist self, I gave in to the fact years ago. I don't watch tv, and I can't remember the last time I saw a mall, so I am nicely shielded from the tainted aspects of our culture's stressful and mindless shop-fest. We have even talked most of our family into keeping the gift-giving very pared-down, so that really cuts the stress to the bare minimum. I can simply enjoy the old-fashioned parts ~ lights, music, fires in the fireplace, movies and specials rented from iTunes, and festive feasting with loved ones. Yay!
The Pandora devotee that I am, here are some stations I have been rotating. Vince Gauraldi Trio ~ the Charlie Brown music. I love it. Mostly instrumental, jazzy versions of the classics. Piano-centric. Ukraine Bell Carol ~ classical. Very nice. Sleigh Ride ~ the classics by Dean Martin, Andy Williams, etc.
and a gift from Arlene ~ Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas is You ~ on the pop end of the spectrum, it warms my heart because it reminds me of Arlene. : ) Mariah really does kick some Christmas song ass.
In trying to be respectful of my housemates, the Christmas music time is selective, and I sneak some in while they're out. That way it doesn't get old for any of us.
As much as I love the mild weather of the Bay Area, I must admit to wishing I saw a snowflake or two out the window. Snow is so magical and so much a part of the Christmas Mystery for me. But I get over that one pretty quick! ;-)
I'm wishing for you a warm cheery beverage (and maybe a cookie), laughter, and singing with people you love.
Remember how I said that after Burning Man this year I came home? Well, it seems I have finally arrived. After years of hermitting and navelgazing, it has taken me some time to 1) realize I was ready to extend into the world around me, 2) peek my head out the door, 3) lick my finger and stick it up into the air to know which way the wind was blowing, 4) point myself in a desired direction, and 5) lift my wings and hop up into the breeze. I've landed! As we headed home from a week of gratitude with family and loved ones, I checked my inbox during our layover. I had (let me see if I can count them all up.. ) .. Six invitations for upcoming events (and these don't even include plans we had made already)! Two mommy-kiddo groups I recently joined discussion lists for: one for Bay Area unschoolers, and one for Berkeley moms and babes who eat in the nourishing traditional fashion, one meeting for a cohousing/ecovillage/homeschooling interest group, a winter party at our local biofuel station/urban farming supply and education center, and two holiday parties at friends' houses! (geez-! Looking at the descriptions it seems as if I'm the really crunchy Berkeley resident I thought I was! ;-) But--) This is my life. This is the life I have fashioned for myself with my family in Berkeley, CA, late 2009. And I know that discussion lists don't necessarily equal friends, and interest groups don't equal community, but they are a start. My start. And that doesn't even include the glowingly warm and bustling homelife that has blossomed for us - because I write about that all the time. I have heard it said that you must go on vacation to remember how much you love where you live. These days I don't even have to leave town (although that's fun in small doses, too), I can just check my inbox - or open my eyes.
I'm here! And it feels like a Grand beginning. :-)
Photo: moonrise over Salt Lake--seconds before, it was reflecting in the lake, but airplanes move fast!
even in the midst of their seemingly very unlucky weekend (getting turned down and slammed at a job interview, having their rental car broken into, and most all of the their valuable stuff taken, then getting a stomach bug!), it was really nice to have these guys around the house for the weekend.
Ahhh! The influx of fresh air and new energy. Gets our feathers ruffled and our creativity a boost. And, I think just a tad, we have to prove to our new roommie that we are indeed as cool as we made ourselves out to be. Kind of like putting on a smile on a day when you woke up grumpy: sometimes it works! We have been staying up "late" (ooo! 11pm!) sharing wine and conversation, showing Austin around town as if we knew the place, and introducing him to interesting-looking people whom we have secretly wanted to know ourselves. Just what we wanted. Some of our friends don't understand why we, a married couple with a kid, would invite a young gay guy from Kentucky to live with us in our little "single family dwelling" in Berkeley when we don't need the rent money. Some of his friends assumed things. Well, since moving away from our household of loved ones in Sacramento, we have longed for supportive community life ever since. Extended chosen-family life suits us. We have invited others whom we love to join us, and Austin just happens to be the first person to take us up on it. We're delighted!
Uncle Austin making an impromptu fishing pole for Anjali to catch chickens in the backyard.
A highlight that Sealion and I anticipated was ~ surprise surprise! ~ the food. Austin is a foodie after our own hearts. The communal family meal has returned. So far, we have eaten delicious Tiffie-n-Austin-made dinners 3-out-of-4 nights. And yesterday Austin and I had my food friend Ciara over to prepare a batch of kraut to ferment in time for holiday gifts. Fun! Canning, preserving, fermenting, all are tedious-but-simple labors that are best shared with friends ~ many hands make light work (and great conversation). This has been my dream.
We made a spiced, Christmas-inspired seasonal batch that included purple cabbage for color, tart apple slices, and spices like cinnamon, clove, and magical cardamom. "Christmas Kraut" has an easy ring to it, but Austin's "Wassail Kraut" is even better. With this, I am sneaking the time to write a recipe on my food blog, Food-a-File, which we have all forgotten. So happy to dust it off and add a tasty entry.
Sealion and I are banking on the idea that community and creativity beget community and creativity ~ a good deal for everyone. And just in time to weather the winter gray and chill!
How is a sleeping baby so awe-inpiring? It seems I have to remind myself to breathe as I gaze at her, I am so mesmerized. The to-do list, poised for naptime productivity, lies untouched for a few moments as I sit, rapt. There is a belief that during a birth, the curtain between heaven and earth is opened up and remains that way for a while once the child is born, so that the baby is kind of in between worlds for a bit. Perhaps as they sleep, the curtain is drawn open an inch or two, so that the air around them glows with soft angelic warmth. A sleeping baby embodies peace. And innocence. She lets me, the viewer/voyeur, poke my head in and visit that place ~ untouched by schedules or hurry or expectations. For a moment.
Food is so important to me. It is happily central to our home life. I am fascinated with pretty much every aspect of food ~ from field to plate and beyond. Nutrition is the flip side of that same coin, or more appropriately, one facet of the beautiful prism ~ because ecology, social justice, politics... all are a part of the picture, too. Luckily when you eat Good Food, you care for all aspects at the same time. And once your body becomes accustomed to truly good food, excellent nutrition is easy (though not necessarily fast! [or maybe i should say necessarily not-fast..]) and delicious.
Especially once I began preparing for pregnancy, children's nutrition ~ hand-in-hand with pregnancy nutrition ~ has become one of my key passions. Don't even get me started! ;-) And now you don't have to because some of my associates in the San Francisco Bay Area have re-vamped their very informative site dedicated to children's nutrition. Its focal audience is parents, but I think it does a great ~ thorough yet concise ~ job of speaking to human nutrition in general. And shares resources if you'd like to learn more. Clicking on "For Parents" will take you to the nutritional info.
Hannah asked what we feed the chickens. That is still evolving. When we first brought them home, we bought a bag of organic chicken feed that our biodiesel station/urban farming center sells. But, as we know, just because something is labeled "organic" doesn't mean it's automatically good for you. The mix was pretty much the hen equivalent of a fortified cereal ~ it had a laundry list of additives that had long scientific names, and also included a whole lot of soy. We try at all cost to avoid having soy in our diet (except for miso and fermented soy sauce), so we knew that this feed mix was temporary for us; what goes into the hen, comes out in the eggs. I found a recipe for an organic hen feed mixture that includes all kinds of legumes (other than soy!) and grains, plus kelp for trace minerals, and crushed oyster shells for calcium. It's made up of whole kernels, nuts, and seeds so the hens have to work harder for it, and it also stays fresher longer as opposed to going rancid (therefore not as nutritious) or dissolving into the dirt. They devour our kitchen scraps, and any greens I toss them from the garden. We also have been able to collect *bags* of produce from the booths at the farmers' markets ~ smushed tomatoes, crushed chard, carrot tops. As if you expected anything less for any animal living under our culinary care: these lucky hens eat well!!!
We let them stay in their little corner yard so that they, and we, could get accustomed to the situation. They figured out where the laying boxes were (with the help of some decoy eggs in there) and we have collected two dozen eggs so far! They also learned over just the course of a few evenings to go into their house when it gets dark (they came up with some amusing places before they got the hang of it, though ~ by flashlight, we found one roosted *outside the chicken yard* up on the eye-level wrung of a ladder!).
A few days ago we let them out into our backyard at large. Sealion built a little hinged door in the corner of their fence, and, one by one, they found their way out. Just in time for the rainy season to coax a green carpet of oxalis from the dirt. I don't know who had more fun ~ the hens exploring the new territory, or us watching them explore. Every day since, we have gone out in the late afternoon to hang out and garden while the hens graze before they retire at sundown. This morning when I peeked out the window, I saw that two of them had jumped the fence and were contentedly scratching and grazing the grasses. So.. I just opened up their little door and left it open. We'd really rather not clip their wings to control where they go, and ours is the only green yard in sight, so we can't see why they'd want to venture elsewhere; their focus is narrow.
And, yes ~ we have named them. Each has her own particular personality, and shared her name with us by and by. Phyllis is the slender "blonde" with the wig of fluffy feathers, Coco is her sister in breed who has dark feathers rimmed with caramel color, Nilla is the white-ish hen of the bigger, more stereotypical barnyard-looking girls. Ana is the black-n-white marbled one, and Sassy (Big) Brown is the roundest tallest and bossiest of the bunch with a gorgeous deep auburn color. Since, Nilla has earned the title Duchess of Dirt for her dirt bath zeal and prowess, and Ana ~ Sultan-a of Scratch, for her style and skill at kicking those strong legs.
Photos: A good look at the handy-dandy door in the fence, Nilla displaying her capabilities as a hen with two fully functioning wings, and the ladies enjoying the loose dirt beneath the redwood ~ perfect for dirt bathing.
When I look back on the photos leading up to Anjali's birth, I see a lot of stress and tension and anxiety (I know there was more than that, but that's what I'm remembering right now).[Morning edition: No ~ I take that back. The anxious anticipation is what I add to the scene knowing the "outcome" in retrospect. What I see in the photos: a lot of hard work, exhaustion... and committed patience. Oh, and love. A *whole* lot of that from all sides.] But looking at these, I feel such a calm hush. An "all is right" kind of peace. And relief. Ahhhhh. Quiet.
Another thing I realize looking at these photos is that I was seeing this new creature for the first time ever. Now when I see them, I say, "Oh! I know that little person! There she is!"
Happy BIRTHday, Anjali Sage Pope. Happy BIRTHday, Mommy and Papi.