Posts tagged: travel

Making a Lemonade Day from a Lemon

By , September 14, 2019

I had an irritating errand to do this week in order to get re-hired for my job (I job-share with someone else — they work part of the year, I work the other part, and because we’re temp employees we have to get re-hired each time and it’s always a hassle-y process). In the past I had to just go to the HR office nearby to get fingerprinted but this time I had to drive to the next town an hour away for this stupid, simple 10-minute task — a waste of my time, energy, and gas.

I decided that in order to have a good attitude about the errand, I needed to make it fun for myself. So after the appointment, I stopped in at an antique shop across the street and took my unhurried time looking at everything. I got three little things including a little kitty picture frame, and this great book The English Country Home and wooden jar. I walked to a nearby cafe and got a fun treat-drink, and then I drove to a little town I’ve always been curious about, and stopped at a public open space area, which I had all to myself, and absolutely basked in the feeling of being in the mountains. I had forgotten how good it felt and how much I had needed it. The smell!!!!!! Spicy, earthy, pine-needle-y, heavenly smell. I’d forgotten how good the mountains smell. I came upon a little creek and spent a lot of time poking around there and soaking in the sound and sight of the moving water.

It all felt so incredibly good. It seemed like terrible timing to be away for a day since I have so much going on especially with all the garden produce flooding in. I miss a day and I get behind. A vacation day was extra-needed, and I didn’t realize it until it was happening. I’d done something Fun that day (!) and I came home feeling uplifted and renewed. I spent the next day flattened and fatigued unfortunately, but I made that stupid errand ‘work for me’ and it was worth it!

*****

Photo Tour of The Good Life Center: Helen and Scott Nearing’s Forest Farm in Harborside, Maine

By , July 19, 2019

Care and artistry are worth the trouble. They can be a satisfaction to the practitioner and a joy to all beholders.

-Helen Nearing

***

In early August of last year I visited Forest Farm with my family on a special trip to Maine, and it was one of the top highlights of the entire trip. What a special place; I didn’t want to leave. Forest Farm was the entirely hand-built homestead of Helen and Scott Nearing, authors of many books including the classics Living the Good Life: How to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled World and its sequel Continuing the Good Life: Half a Century of Homesteading. (Still relevant! The value of old books… see previous post.) My copy of Living the Good Life came down to me via my dad, from his mother many years ago. Growing up, his family would take beloved summer vacations to isolated Harborside, Maine and they would hear about the “commie” Nearings who lived nearby. Helen and Scott’s door was always open to those interested in observing, helping, and learning, and Forest Farm still welcomes visitors as The Good Life Center, carrying on the Nearings’ tradition of sharing and showing.

I took many photos! Are you ready for a visit?

***

Driving to The Good Life Center through tiny Harborside:

Arriving at the Nearings’ driveway. It was a peaceful, hot, still, muggy afternoon here.

It was very quiet; bees buzzing, small waves lapping the shore in the cove across the street. A few other visitors sifted through while we were there. You just park and amble in. Very laid back, you’re welcome to wander and stay as long as you like, soaking it all in.

This is the caretakers’ cottage over the summer:

Helen and Scott’s beautiful hand-built stone house:

 

Here is a photo of Helen doing the stonework:

Let’s go in. Here’s their kitchen — an airy, light-filled, feel-good space:

Those were the beautiful bowls and spoons they used.

Here are their mugs:

Here’s their kitchen as it was:

Helen and Scott on the right:

Now we walk into the living room, with a cozy wood-burning stove, book shelves lining the walls, and a wonderful view of the surrounding forest and out to their cove:

Here’s more of the house; this area is used as the little bookshop now. Visitors aren’t allowed upstairs to the bedroom but you can peek up the stairwell:

Here’s their original sign:

Let’s go out to the garden and greenhouse now. There’s a little apple orchard in the protected area between the house and the walled garden:

Here’s that lovely walled vegetable garden:

Behind the greenhouse:

Overlooking the walled garden toward the house and greenhouse:

Compost piles on the left, outside the garden:

The rest of the land is forested. There are some walking trails you can take through tall trees, ferns, tall grasses, and dappled shade.

Here’s their cove across the street:

And here’s the mission statement of The Good Life Center:

That concludes our visit to Forest Farm. I hope you enjoyed it!

***

Just up the road is Four Season Farm, owned by Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch — names you might recognize if you’re a gardener. The land was once part of the Nearings’.

*****

Retreat

By , March 15, 2013

Last weekend I had a wonderful retreat.

My folks were headed to the mountains for the weekend and my kitty and I went along with them. I didn’t realize how much I needed that dose of nature. My heart has been heavy lately with worry and too much of the ‘big stuff’ on my mind, and getting out of my usual daily pattern and having a fun little vacation really lifted me up. We all had a wonderful time!!

Kiss the kitteh!

These icicles were bent. Weird!

One day it snowed. It’s a shame I was too lazy to go outside and get a proper picture of this enchanted forest at dawn in the snowfall. Instead I took the photo through the window screen. Ug. Next time!

***

What have you all been up to lately??

*****

Gratitude Sunday * July 1, 2012

By , July 1, 2012

~ I’m once again joining Taryn over at Wooly Moss Roots in her Gratitude Sunday tradition. ~

Gratitude Sunday is a time to slow down and remember those thankful moments that graced our week. One reason I love keeping a daily gratitude journal is because it helps keep things in perspective for me. Each Sunday, I open my journal and share some of those moments with you here. If you’d like to join in, just leave a comment!

Gratitude is powerful energy. I love hearing others’ gratitudes!

***

~

– I’m so thankful for the most incredible trip we had to Hawaii. It was so renewing on so many levels. And FUN!!! Oh gosh. And so, so beautiful. I’ll share some pictures soon~

– The place where we house-sat. It was a gorgeous house that could be straight out of a magazine, on 3 acres, no visible neighbors, a wonderful organic garden, and a swimmable stream running through! OH man. I kept thinking, Can this be real?! You can see part of it up there in the top picture. That’s F lounging there, beneath one of the almost-daily rainbows! It was most truly a paradise. We soaked up every second of it.

– F and me, just being on vacation together. It was just so fun!

– For F doing all the driving; he’s such a good driver.

– Sleeping with plumerias around my head each night, and wearing them in my hair. Having their tropical scent around me. *sigh*

– Star gazing, and watching a meteor shower together at 2am, with the entire huge black sky and almost no light pollution.

– The tropical fruit! We ate gallons and gallons of tropical fruit — I had no idea a mango could be that fantastically delicious. And the papayas! I have never eaten fruit that delicious.

– That everything during our house-sitting time went so smoothly. Not one single thing went wrong; for that I am very thankful!

– Getting home safe and sound.

– No ants! In Hawaii, there are bugs. In your house. And lots and lots of ants. In your house. Leave one crumb, and very soon your counter has a pile of ants. I have a very new appreciation for Colorado being relatively bug-free! No ants… oh it’s so nice.

– The winds of change; they’ve been blowing good things in! More to come on that, too.

– Being surprised that I wasn’t too bummed to be home; I thought I would be. It does feel good to be home — although I do get pangs of longing for the home we stayed at and the fun times we had there!

– A special day today — my dad’s belated Father’s Day. Mom and I took him to lunch, then we went back to their house and opened presents from Hawaii which was really fun! I am so thankful for my dad. We share a deep bond. He’s just the very best and I love him so.

– Feeling optimistic. What a nice feeling that is — one I haven’t felt too much of these past couple years, truth be told.

– The little window air conditioner in our apartment. Because it has been very hot here!

***

What’s been on your gratitude list lately? Care to share?

*****

Aloha to you!

By , June 20, 2012

Just a little bit of a check-in today, as we continue to love our time here in Hawaii!! We have seen some incredible scenery here, and now that we’re settled into our house sitting ‘home-away-from-home,’ we’re really just kicking back and relaxing. It feels so good, and it’s something we’ve both been long overdue for. Mornings here for me usually consist of lying out in the sunshine on the grass and then taking a cold, invigorating swim in the stream at the bottom of the yard, and then taking an outdoor shower amidst the orchids and bromeliads that live outside year-round here. Then I’ll brew some tea, and drink it along with a bowl of local papaya with plain yogurt, lime juice (fresh from the tree in the yard!), and grated ginger. Or, a beautiful salad from their organic garden. It feels so good to be here; so healing to ones spirit. It’s a gorgeous house in an incredible location. A little piece of paradise, really. What a gift this is!

Here are a few photos of what we’ve been feasting our eyes upon:

Hanalei Valley, Kauai. Taro is grown in the fields down there.

At the north end of Kauai

Hiking on the Na Pali coast, Kauai

Our tropical fruit! All this stuff is local. Hawaii has some of the most incredible fruit you've ever tasted; I wish we got stuff like this on the Mainland. In the center there's coconut meat from a coconut I found on the beach and hacked into!

Reading about taro in "Edible Hawaiian Islands" magazine, with tea, out on the lanai (patio), with the stream in the background. This is truly the life...

*****

Our Airplane Food

By , June 9, 2012

Yay, we’re headed out pretty soon for Hawaii! We like taking our own food, so this is what we’ve got for the 2 hours at the airport plus the 7 1/2 hour flight:

Salads (all homegrown – lettuce, chives, oregano, dill, parsley)

Grapes

Watermelon, pears, and peaches

Raspberries

Halved lemons to squeeze onto the salads

Larabars

Homemade concord grape fruit leather

Cashews

Pepperjack cheese slices

Wasa crackers

Slices of sprouted grain bread

Whole Wheat Gingerbread muffin

Some little sweet treats

***

I love eating my own food on the plane and it feels good to be taking all this good stuff. Plus we can re-use the containers while we’re travelling too — for picnics or whatever… and then fill them back up with tropical Hawaiian goodness to eat on the plane ride back. (Or with sea shells, as the case may turn out to be…)

*****

A Special Nature Outing

By , April 27, 2012

Pelican

Just wanted to share with you some pictures from the wonderful nature outing I had yesterday! My aunt and her honey are in town visiting this week, and they, together with my mom and dad and I, all went to a nature spot that holds a special place in our hearts. I’ve been going there since I was just a toddler! The weather was sublime, and we had the place to ourselves. It was such a special family time, I’ll never forget it. I only wish my F could have been there with us, I know he would have loved it too. We saw some amazing bird & wildlife activity, including a bald eagle on its nest, a Swainson’s hawk, grebes, pelicans, a couple bullsnakes, a garter snake swimming across a canal (!), and a rattlesnake hunting a bunny!

The cherry on top, for me, was the discovery of a bunch of nettles patches around the place! I didn’t know nettles grew in dry Colorado, so this was quite exciting! More about that in the next post…

Here are some pictures:

Nettles, yay!!

This adorable sight was in the nature center!

Also at the nature center was a whiteboard where people write what they saw while out and about. I had a good laugh at one of the things on this list! Can you spot which one? 🙂

And I gathered two delicate blue speckled eggshells that had been chucked out of a nest, maybe to make room for growing babies. I added them to my nature basket at home. Aren't they beautiful!

*****

Gratitude Sunday * January 1, 2012!

By , January 1, 2012

~ I’m once again joining Taryn over at Wooly Moss Roots in her Gratitude Sunday tradition. ~

Gratitude Sunday is a time to slow down and remember those thankful moments that graced our week. One reason I love keeping a daily gratitude journal is because it helps keep things in perspective for me. Each Sunday, I open my journal and share some of those moments with you here. If you’d like to join in, just leave a comment!

Gratitude is powerful energy. I love hearing others’ gratitudes!

***

– A most wonderful Christmas…spent in a mountain cabin with my parents and cat~

Our view!

In town...

– Our tumbleweed Christmas tree! Now and then we rent a cabin in the mountains for Christmas, and whenever we do, our tradition is to have a tumbleweed tree. I love them!

– Doing such quintessentially Christmasy things on Christmas eve — it fed my soul deeply. We hung out together in our little cabin, played Christmas music, had a fire going in the fireplace, baked gingerbread cookies (dough rolled out with the wine bottle!), roasted chestnuts on the hearth (never mind most of them turned out to be moldy inside, haha!), drank hot mulled apple cider, gathered around the glowing ‘tree’, and opened a few presents.

– Watching Liz, my cat, have the absolute time of her life in the cabin! She had a blast! How fun it was to see her having such a great time.

And she wears her Christmas collar with such nonchalance. Pretty cute.

Christmas morning!

– The incredible night sky. OH my goodness…I’d forgotten just how the night sky looks when you’re away from city lights. OH MY. That first night, I walked outside and literally gasped out loud. I dearly want that night sky to be part of my life…in the near future!! I miss seeing an overwhelming number of stars like that.

– The smell of new soap… I love when I’m on vacation because the soap at new places smells different and really reminds me that I’m on a trip!!

– Pine needle tea.

– Giving my gifts at Christmas!

– The wonderful, love-filled gifts I received from my folks. Wow.

Christmas morning!

– Taking a family walk on Christmas, down to the sledding hill, the frozen pond where people were skating, around the dirt roads, past other cabins… it was lovely. I also loved that I felt well enough to do such a walk! And then…drinking hot chocolate and eating snacks after our walk.

– Starting fires in the fireplace…soaking split peas by the hearth…roasting a potato in the ashes…loving the atmosphere and warmth of a crackling fire…and then taking home all the wood ash for the garden. I loved having a fireplace for 4 days!!

– Going swimming with Mom and playing catch with a wiffle ball. We surprised ourselves at how much fun we had! And the view from the pool of the surrounding snow-covered Rocky Mountains was breathtaking.

– Having a break from the computer (and all other technology) over Christmas. Gosh that felt good… and I’d like to make that happen more often in day-to-day living. How nice it was to go back to the simpler times that I remember, when computers weren’t part of our daily lives, and we actually interacted with one another, read actual books, had actual conversations, took actual walks together, etcetera!

– Low-tech “family art time” that happened spontaneously — dad was doing watercolor at the table, and mom and I began making ornaments. All was quiet while we were absorbed in our tasks, and it felt good to be gathered at the table together. We definitely don’t take each other for granted, and we know those moments are so precious.

– Getting home safely, and feeling that of course I loved the cabin and the mountains, but it also felt good to be home.

– Getting home to my sweet Hubby, and glad that he got some good alone-time while I was gone. We all need alone time. 🙂

– Meeting F the next day near his office and going to lunch; I loved that.

– While driving home from the mountains, feeling a deep desire for a luxurious spa treatment…and then arriving home to find an envelope with a gift certificate from my sister for…a spa treatment!!!!!! Oh Hallelujah!!!

– Finally getting to the thrift store for some new clothes.

– Getting home in one piece after an exhausting and frazzling errands day out and about on my bike… arriving home after dark, from icy and slushy roads, with a heavy backpack and annex bag on my handlebars. Totally exhausted. And into the loving arms of my wonderful hubby (who was busy making some incredible spaghetti sauce!), and then into a hot bath with flower essences, bath salts, candles, and relaxing music. Then into bed!!

– Cleaning up and purging some stuff from our house yesterday. I didn’t realize it was New Year’s Eve until mid-day, but F and I had spontaneously launched into a perfectly appropriate activity for that particular day…purging the old, cleaning up, throwing out, organizing. And today I got out my Lillian Too’s 168 Feng Shui Ways to Declutter Your Home book which is such a great way to get fired up about purging your house if you’re lacking inspiration. I always lament the fact that I use so much of my stuff, because I’d really just like to give it all away!!

– Having help from my Hubby with the huge mountain of laundry yesterday. Our landlord bought a brand new fancy Samsung front-loader washing machine that we all hate. I won’t go into detail because it’ll just rekindle my hatred of that thing, haahaa!, but yesterday having Hubby pre-wash everything in the bathtub was a huge help, and made the task seem a lot less overwhelming.

– A relaxing and quiet New Years Eve. We even watched an entire Lawrence Welk show — they were celebrating New Years Eve 1971! We can’t help but laugh at certain acts in that show, and comment that every single person in the audience is probably dead now…but last night some good old fashioned schmaltz just felt right.

– Though I don’t normally get too excited about New Year’s, I began thinking about it last night and feeling glad for a slate that’s been wiped clean, ready for a new start!

***

Happy 2012 to you!

What gratitudes have graced your week?

***

*****

Back From Argentina!

By , December 17, 2010

Lost in the chaotic back streets of Buenos Aires

Boy it’s been a whole month since I posted! We got back from Argentina a couple weeks ago, and I’ve been getting things back in order, plus relaxing and enjoying the Christmas season!

We had such a great time on our trip! There were many things we observed and made note of, and I’ve listed them here if anyone’s interested. Just observations about the country. There are more pictures after the text.

We* ended up driving almost 3,200 miles from Buenos Aires down the east coast to Peninsula Valdez where we saw penguins, then west through Patagonia (route 25) to the Andes, then through the Pampas back to Buenos Aires.

*I was the map-reader and in fact did precisely NONE of the driving; F. did it all, despite the insane drivers, complete lack of stop signs, and basically no road rules. I was so sure we were going to get into an accident, but amazingly we didn’t. My Hubby is such a good driver! Wow.

Argentina was NOT cheap like everyone had said, however. Prices for everything (even in places well off the beaten path) were comparable to the United States. The nature there was first-rate, however. Beautiful! We loved seeing different animals in the wild, including guanacos, rheas (like ostriches), flamingos, penguins, whales, parakeets, sea lions, tarantulas, an armadillo, a stork, vultures, cara-caras, vermillion fly catchers, etc.

Some Random Observations:

Argentina is very Italian (say “Ciao!”). It’s all about pasta, pizza, ham-n-cheese -everything, and croissants. We ate enough ham & cheese cold cuts and croissants to last us a lifetime.

This country consumes a LOT of sugar! It’s everywhere, and in everything. And they love their helado (ice cream) and dulce de leche (carmelized milk & sugar)!

They don’t seem to be much into fresh food or vegetables. Salads are a little bit of wilty lettuce topped with mountains of ham and cheese, topped with, strangely, distilled white vinegar and corn(!) or vegetable oil. Canned fruit was usually the thing, rather than fresh. I was consistently underwhelmed by the selection and quality of fresh produce — and none of it was organic that I saw.

Despite the perfect climate and rich soil, I only saw a handful of backyard gardens and a couple of backyard fruit trees. Why don’t people grow their own food?

The supermarkets are crammed with processed foods laden with sugar, preservatives, partially hydrogenated oils, and white flour, with seemingly no healthier alternatives.

Milk is mostly all ultrapasteurized, sold in aseptic bags or in boxes on the shelf. And I stocked up when I could find plain yogurt with no sugar added!

I didn’t see organic anything. The organic/local foods/whole foods/fresh foods/no-GMO thing hasn’t reached Argentina yet, it seems. They do have Gluten-Free down pat, though.

No health food stores… none that I saw anyway.

They drink a lot of mate (pronounced mah-tay), anywhere and everywhere, all the time, usually with friends, preferably outside, but also at work and in the car.

Spanish is spoken with an Italian accent. And the double L sound is pronounced “sh” rather than “y”. Calle (“street”) is pronounced “kah-shay” instead of “kah-yay.”

The driving is completely nuts, reckless, and downright scary, but people are generally paying attention and usually not on their cell phones.

The road signage throughout the country is minimal, confusing, and often just plain stupid.

There are no stop signs at intersections, lanes are optional, red lights are sometimes disregarded — as are pedestrians — and it’s very much a “me first” attitude. I’m still completely amazed that we weren’t involved in an accident.

That said, the people (when not in their cars) seemed really nice everywhere we went. We didn’t really run into the machismo attitude we’d read about, although perhaps that’s because we were traveling as a couple. I got a few wolf whistles but mostly I just noticed that the men were courteous in general, and held the door for me.

Seat belts, car seats, and helmets are seen only occasionally.

Buenos Aires has a Parisian look to it, but the buildings are dirty and run down, perhaps from the air pollution?; the city is much prettier at night when you can’t see the dirt!

We drank the water everywhere with no problem.

All gas stations are full service. All cars are manual transmission.

What they call “NAFTA” is the regular gasoline we’re used to in the States; it’s expensive at around US$4+ a gallon. GNC (compressed natural gas) is also widely available (and usually a quarter of the price as NAFTA), and many cars use that as fuel.

In general, Argentinians are thin, easy on the eyes, and casually fashionable. Most have European blood.

The traffic lights will turn yellow before they turn red, but also again before they turn green.

Waiters will let you linger at a restaurant as long as you want; if you want the check, you’ll have to ask for it. The strange “table fee” added to your bill is for the bread, use of the table, clean silverware & plates, etc. It’s not the tip. It’s customary to tip at least 10% at a restaurant.

Police stations are in every town, no matter how small. There are lots of police “checkpoints” (though they seemed pretty laid-back).

Lots of toll roads, especially around Buenos Aires.

In Argentina they like to nickel and dime you for everything; however, parking was free, even at the beach!

No smoke detectors in hotel rooms.

Lots of cows eating lush, green grass. Famous grass-fed beef. However, they’re just getting into the feedlot-factory-farming thing — cringe!

Seemingly no emissions regulations on vehicles. The air is downright acrid in Buenos Aires.

Lots of dirty, run-down, soviet-style apartment blocks. Dead, soviet-looking building carcasses litter the landscape; too decrepit to resurrect, no money to tear them down.

The feel of the whole country is “not enough money.” This is thanks to their recent, turbulent political history.

Prices ARE NOT CHEAP! We read so many things that said “Argentina is cheap.” Well, Argentina is NOT cheap. Even in the small towns that are off the beaten path. Its prices are absolutely comparable to the US, except for electronics which are outdated and yet cost twice what they cost in the US. Jobs are evidently hard to come by, and people don’t make much money. We honestly don’t know how they survive. Thus, the look of “poor” throughout the country.

Siesta is every afternoon. Stores close for about four hours and then re-open later in the evening. They still put in a 40-hour work week though.

Argentinians are night owls; they eat late and stay up very late.

Dogs run free. There are dogs everywhere, napping on sidewalks, crossing streets, playing in groups, just “out and about.” Some are stray, some aren’t; all look happy!

Our Peugeot rental car

Somewhere in Buenos Aires

Mar del Plata

Driving along the beach, south of Mar del Plata (?)

Ubiquitous dirty apartment blocks -- these are in not-so-scenic Necochea

Pastry with dulce de leche -- the best deal in Argentina at only US$1

Someone's backyard behind the gas station. Can't remember where...

Every store had an entire aisle devoted to cheap vegetable oils. Only 75 cents US for a bottle. Not your thing? Then try the blocks of margarine in the refridgerated section!

Milk is sold in bags. Almost all of it ultrapasteurized; pasteurized (like the stuff above) is rare.

We stayed in Puerto Pyramides on Peninsula Valdez. I particularly loved this leg of our trip. Our room was right on the beach and we watched whales from our balcony!

We saw lots of sweet penguins at Peninsula Valdez!! Gorgeous water, too. (And very, very windy!)

Patagonia does feature a lot of nothing.

In the Andes, with Bariloche in the distance. It was SO windy! And the water really is that beautiful color.

Typical Argentinian hotel buffet breakfast. Ham & cheese, croissants (not pictured), canned fruit, sweetened drinkable yogurt, breads, and sugary pastries filled with dulce de leche.

The Pampas sometimes looked like the grassland prairie of the American midwest, while in other places (like here near Santa Rosa) it looked like the African savanna with lots of Acacia. (And notice the flamingos in the water in the bottom left hand corner of the picture!)

Old gas station with Che Guevara posters in the city of Chivilcoy.

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