Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Cheerleader

Last Wednesday's Chetco Grange Farmer's Market was great. Not only was the weather perfect but we had a good amount of people showing their support. I worked alongside Rich again from Otter Bee's. He was selling an inexhaustible assortment of wild mushroom along with colorful bags of dried fruits. I'm aching to try his dried peaches. To my immediate right was Julie from Ocean Air Farms, who had the most amazing variety of organic veggies and creamy goat milk soap. Her farm was recently featured in the Curry Coastal Pilot and The Triplicate newspapers. Julie is a young, beautiful, rugged farmer - the real deal. She and her boyfriend along with family, friends and interns work their land all-year-round, bringing the fruits of their labor to farmer's markets all over the area. I cannot begin to tell you how much I admire people like Julie.

Organic farmers have chosen a lifestyle that's not for the weak hearted. They work incredibly hard to make ends meet and gross very little. Not to mention the fact that they give their bodies to the earth and thereby to us, so we can have the very best produce possible without using chemicals - which would make their jobs so much easier for them.

Now, I'm not a farmer, in fact I've only tried my hand at herbs and flowers, but one day I hope to grow my own tomatoes, zucchinis, onions and bell peppers. I guess I've never really "needed" to grow my own so I never did. Coming from the big city, you'd think it would be difficult to find organic produce - but it's not. In fact, organic produce in Alameda is more readily accessible than it is here. Moreover, Berkeley Bowl, Alameda Natural Grocers, Encinal Market and of course Whole Foods carries organic produce all year-round.

Sadly, before I discovered the Chetco Grange Farmer's Market, I was either perusing the "organics" isle at Safeway and Freddy Meyer's or driving like a madwoman two hours to the North-Coast Co-Op, just for an organic tomato and some green beans. Then last Spring I stumble upon the Grange. When I sank my teeth into one of Sylvia's organic Roma tomatoes I almost wept. As the seasons changed I faithfully went to the Grange every Wednesday. The farmers there sell in the great outdoors for as long as they can, because when the rains come and everyone moves inside they don't sell as well. If people don't see you set-up outside they think it's over. Out of sight out mind I guess.

I am so proud to be volunteering my time once a week at the farmer's market this year. I may not be a farmer, on the contrary I make hand crocheted bags and organic baked goods, but I stand alongside heroes of farming. People who proudly sport dirt under their nails and wild hair. In the morning while we're all setting-up our Quick Shades and tables, I watch the farmers proudly display their finery and sometimes I get a lump in my throat. I want to yell from the top of my lungs, "THANK YOU for planting, cultivating and sharing the fruits and vegetables we need, for being at the Grange rain or shine every Wednesday, and for saving me a trip to Eureka!" I guess you can say I'm their cheerleader.

Ocean Air Farms intern, Sarah stands ready to take your order.
Check them out at:
Sylvia, sprucing up her lovely produce.
One of my favorite farmer's market supporters, Miriam!
Michael's idea...
A fan of Micky's Organic Kale Biscuits.
Virgil sings all day with amazing depth.
I love his rendition of "Don't Take Your Guns to Town" by Johnny Cash.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Happy the Man

Highway 101 runs straight through my little town of Brookings, Oregon. All in a stretch of about five miles the speed limit goes from 55mph to 35mph, then as you hit downtown it's 25mph. After passing Sacks Thrift Avenue, Mo Joe's, Modele Salon, Sweet Pea Tea Room and Vista Pub, the speed limit quickly jumps up to 35 then 55 all over again.

If you just so happen to be driving on this stretch of highway at around 3:30 you'll see him: A tiny piece of walking joy. He's a small bearded man who faintly resembles Popeye dressed for a walkabout, complete with pith hat. When you spot him you'll see him wave to a car and think, "Oh that's nice, he must know those people." Then all of a sudden, he'll turn his full attention to you and give the most sincere smile and wave. Better still, he waits for your response. If you're like me, not used to such public displays of friendliness, you'll politely nod and sort of smile his way. To that he touches the tip of his hat and bows, very debonair-like.

Ira Tozer, picture courtesy of Curry Coastal Pilot
The next time I saw The Waving Man, I was driving with my husband in his truck. I had no idea Tony had seen him before and watched in amazement as he rolled down his window and yelled, "Alright Buddy!!!" While boisterously waving and smiling. Feeling a little ashamed of my first response, I joined in. To this Mr. Happy stopped walking, bent his knees, pointed our way and shouted, "Alright!!! Thank you!!!" "Do you know him?!" I asked Tony. Of course not, but they acted like they knew each other, and in a way they do. They're two human beings acknowledging each other in a revolutionary act of brotherly love via waving. It's very beautiful in it's simplicity.

Knights used to wave to one another. The raising of their hand meant, "I am not armed, I come in peace." In the same spirit, Mr. Spread-Joy is boldly walking down HWY 101 facing traffic, waving like a modern day knight saying, "I come in peace and I want you to know, you do matter!" It touches my heart to have such a great person living in my town. He has been spreading the love for six years now:

Friday, July 8, 2011


Olive, 2 Months Old
It was inevitable...sooner or later we were going to get another Boston Terrier, and when Mick started showing signs of depression and lethargy I grew concerned. I couldn't loose my other boy too! I've had that happen before when I lost my first dog - Mama, my cat Eb left us two months later. Plus, Mick has aged, a lot. It's as if Sailor took Mick's youth the day he left us.

After some discussion we went on sabbatical, the three of us, away from home and Sailor's constant memory. It was exactly what we needed. We drove up North to Eugene then to Portland for a few days, then one day to Washington state and adopted a little female Boston. She was going to be used for breeding due to her "exceptional" markings, whatever, we just wanted a companion for Mick. Plus, we liked the thought of saving this little girl from a fate of over breading and a house that reeked of patchouli oil and chaos. Tony named her Pearl, then he changed it to Olive, which I think better suits her personality.

I can't say Mick likes Olive very much. Actually, he's quite annoyed with her, but being annoyed is better than being depressed. He's eating pretty regularly now, and he'll play with his baby sister, if I initiate play. Sometimes he's rough and nips, which is followed by a squeak from Olive, but then play resumes. She's one tough chick. Mick doesn't mean to be hard on Olive, he's just used to playing with his brother, who could dish out as good as he got from his much heavier compadre. That said, playing with Olive is more remedial than fun for Mick, he'd rather lay under the table where he and Sailor used to hang out.

Olive on the other hand LOVES Micky more than anything, including us. She's constantly on him and tries every tactic under the sun to be near him, which drives Mick nuts; but the alternative is him staring into space, teary eyed and not responding to anything. The hardest part is watching Mick run all over the house looking for Sailor when we first come home, as if his brother was merely on an extended vacation. Now we give him a kale biscuit, made from scratch, let Olive out of her pen and act like everything is GREAT. It seems to work most of the time.

Of course Mick's emotions mirror our own, and I can see why some marriages dissolve when they loose a child, especially if that child was the only thing the couple had in common. I thank God that Tony and I had a life before Sailor, and while we had him we did many things together as a couple, without the dogs: traveling, picnics, going to the movies, etc.. In a way, I think it's our history that is enabling us to rebuild our life. We danced together in the kitchen the other night - something we always do but haven't done for a while. It was really nice.

Spinach, Leak and Cheese Quiche, Martha Stewart's Recipe
Olive has helped not only Mick, but me and Honey. She's a total clown, the Boston Terrier's leading characteristic, and we find ourselves laughing a lot despite ourselves. She requires much of our attention of course, she's a puppy, which gets us out of our heads and in the moment. Unfortunately, she has a habit of jumping on her poop, trailing it all over her room then laying down in her bed. So I've been on constant potty patrol, interchanging her two beds and toys between washings. Heaven help us when we're gone for more than 4 hours. Her room looks like she'd spent the day finger painting a collage - in poop. She also enjoys gnawing on all of our wood furniture, including the legs of the piano, which Tony thinks is endearing. She's also very smart and knows what "NO" means and stops whatever she shouldn't be doing, finds an appropriate toy and looks our way as if to say, "See, I'm a good-girl, please don't get rid of me."

I think she's also the reason I started cooking again. The boy used to sit in the kitchen with me while Tony took a nap or watched a movie; now Olive does the same thing, or she stares at me from above her Papa's head while he naps. It's strange, she even butts me on the leg with her wet little nose, the way Sailor used to do while I'm doing dishes or writing on the computer. It's their way of saying, "Hey, I'm here." She pains me and touches my heart at the same time, which is such a strange sensation. I imagine it's akin to what a woman feels when she see a little boy who looks like her own deceased son that passed from heart failure. Heart failure, a Boston Terrier trait that I was unaware of...

Olive and Mick, July 2011
Still, the joy these little buggers bring are worth the wake of grief they leave behind when they go. I'm hoping we can give Olive as good a life as we gave Sailor. A simple, yet adventurous life playing ball, walks on the beach and lots of kisses. Plus, she has a sweet older brother. If I know Mick, Olive's going to be one loved baby sister. He's already teaching her everything he knows, the same way Sailor taught him how to play with toys and how to give loves. I guess when it's his time to go, she'll have a strong foundation that she'll pass on to the next generation. So in a way, Sailor and Micky's legacy will live on...furever.