Monday, April 12, 2010

What local is

While we were in California we did a lot of grocery shopping- a couple of conventional groceries, some high end groceries, and 2 green groceries. I had decided to try to buy things that were local to California, partly to remind myself of the differences in growing seasons. I had forgotten that lemons grow in your backyard, and Strawberry season is in full swing by April, that in fact most of the strawberries at my Ithaca grocery store are shipped there from California.

So as I tried to remember what "local" was in the bay area, I noticed that the conventional stores had only minimal information, and you had to go hunting for it. One green grocery had the state or country posted on a sign near each kind of produce (Rhubarb from Mexico, eh? There went my plans for Strawberry Rhubarb Pie) I did pretty well rounding up California produce for our next meals (it is America's breadbasket after all)

Then we went to a store that listed the number of miles each fruit or veggie traveled to get to the store. That was when I realized that "California grown" food could come from 300 miles away! I managed to find a few things that were grown only 100 miles away, but the selection was much reduced. I began to remember that our CSA when we lived in the bay area was about that far from our home in Berkeley. I remembered that the only farm in Alameda county is some kind of historical agriculture preserve run by the parks department or something.

I try to shop local when I'm at home in Ithaca too. Both of my grocery stores have a little "local" sign they put on some produce, and when I can't find that I look for some shout-out to the fingerlakes region or New York State when possible. But often "local" means ithaca and its surrounds. The farm where I have my CSA is about 3 miles from my house, and we pass other farms on a drive of 10 miles in any direction. Local seems to be more... well... local where I live now.

But now I'm home and Strawberries won't be growing here for another month or so. And sadly, it is never lemon season in Ithaca.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Last Night

Being that it was our last night in California, we gathered one last time for dunner. We bustled from kitchen to studio: making dinner together and "bouncing down" the tracks from Thursday's jam. When all was ready we opened that totally righteous bottle of wine our friend gave us, and tried to feel the happiness of being together more than the sadness of parting. We knew we had to catch a 6:15 am flight, and a good friend had left that very day for her new home in Southern California.

Our son challenged all comers to a duel on Wii Fencing, and defeated them all soundly. Suddenly it was 11:00 and, anticipating our 4:30 am airport shuttle, the party came to an abrupt end. We never did make those lemons into lemonade, see the house where our son was born or make that pilgrimage to Willow Glen Yoga.

The next day we were stupid after a night of too little and too restless sleep. The taxi came to the wrong address, the bags were over their weight limit, and apparently the inferior Chocolate Croissant we got for Wuggie at the airport just before boarding was for him the last straw. (I didn't think it was possible to make a bad chocolate croissant, but Wuggie sure was disappointed with this one.) In desperation we paid the fee for in-air satellite television, and watched "World's Strictest Parents" and "Top Chef" marathons the whole way home. (Except Wuggie, who prefers the GPS channel).

Thankfully, Adventure Gramma met us at the airport and whisked us home to what had become a happy pack of cats and dogs while we were gone. Underdog had lost all fear and apparently had as much fun on his vacation as we had on ours. We kept our eyes open long enough to eat dinner and then faded fast.

The next morning we battled jet-lag and Gramma took us on a short walk to a historic coffee shop complete with waitress/cook in Revolutionary era garb. (Gramma is a total hero, by the way, for watching our dogs for 12 days, providing airport shuttle and historic breakfast outing).

We loaded the car four our 5 hour drive home. Home. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the tulips waited for us. Spring has just begun.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Last Day

Tuesday, in honor of our last day in California, we took Cal Train and the BART over to Berkeley. (It was a fun adventure for our son Wuggie, and pretty chill to ride with coffee and a book, but took nearly 2 hours. I can't believe we have friends who do this every day!)

Our son had been promised a Slurpee, and my partner wanted to visit Amoeba (how many hours we spent back in the day flipping through the used CD bins. Sigh.) Our brunch spot, La Note, was right near a favorite foraging ground of mine, Pegasus Books, where I had often serendipitously found a favorite author's most recent books in perfect condition. My luck had held up over 3 intervening years- brand new hardbound Octavia Butler and P.K. Dick for $5 each- even worth schlepping in my backpack the rest of the day.

From there we walked to get Wuggie a Slurpee (which we consumed on a bus-stop bench where I learned that Berkeley has curbside pick up of kitchen scraps, and that there is an iphone app to find out which bus is coming when). Amoeba also did not disappoint- ah the thrill of finding old and new favorites in the dusty used bins. We even found a They Might be Giants b-sides CD for Wuggie Norple.

We walked up and down the length of Telegraph Avenue, (what a sunny, temperate, perfect day for a walk) then back to the Berkeley Bart with a short layover at Jupiter for a Cider, a hefeweizen and a Lemonade and it was time for the return commute.

Monday, April 05, 2010


After a couple of idyllic days in Marin, we loaded up the car and headed back down the peninsula for the Easter Party. Ham, egg hunting, lemon picking, wine drinking and tons of old friends. Somehow the hay bales out by the grill were transformed into a princess palace that enticed little and not-so-little kids alike out into the rainy California afternoon. A lovely party. We fell into bed exhausted and satisfied.

This morning we cleaned a little, did a little yoga, walked the dogs in the much welcome sun.

Now we are packing up the van for the A's home opener. Plenty of ham and beer left for tail-gating tonight.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Amazing things

Today our son suggested a photo competition during our walk in Roy's Redwood Grove- each of us was to take 3 photos of "Amazing things" which we would share, vote on, and award prizes upon our return home. The sun had finally come out; the day, the redwoods, and the wildflowers were lovely and many photos of amazing things were taken while the dogs zoomed at blurry lightening speeds up hills and across meadows.

After yet another scrumptious group-cooked meal, the slideshow and judging commenced.

Here were a few of my personal favorites.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Laying Low

After a day of nonstop music for the band and sushi and mini-golf for me and the boy, it was time for a slow day.

I was the last one up this morning, I think there were friends sleeping on every surface that was not already covered with instruments or cables. We ate a leisurely breakfast and packed up the drums and cables, laundry and Pokemon magazines while the Woodstock documentary played in the background. I think we're headed north today across the golden Gate bridge for a night of grilling and laying low. Tomorrow I am determined to hug me a Redwood Tree.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

This is happening

After dropping the boy off at his friends, walking the dogs, 4 hours of laying cables and soundchecking the drums, I think the band is finally ready to play...

Oh wait, no they are going to check the drum levels one more time...