I just returned home after a 3 day fermentation training course taught by fermentation guru Sandor Katz. The class took place at The Lama Foundation just outside of Taos where the elevation is 8,600 feet. The course covered usual fermentations (tempeh, kimchi, sauerkraut) which we regularly make, and fermentations that are new to us such as,
I have mixed feelings about Elephant Butte Lake. It is a man made lake nearly 60 sq. miles in size with a WPA backed damn that holds back water from all who live below Truth or Consequences, NM namely Texas and Mexico. The fish are stocked. The wind is unpredictable with huge gusts that have knocked people from boats and taken lives. There is hardly any life around the lake except for weekends when over 100,000 people appear with boats and things that float and lots of beer. Mostly one sees only sand, distant mesas, scrub. A prehistoric bed of fossils and bones lay below.
This is not a natural story so much as one in which man interfered with a natural process and forced a form on it. Today the lake shrivels. Watermarks show that there was once water in the giant reservoir. Islands and land bridges appear regularly. Boats toeing jet skis zoom by as if they hardly notice.
The huge lake has a moonlike, stark beauty. I wonder if it is due to the New Mexico sky, which features a flattering light bulb for any landscape and makes ratty trailers look reasonable.
For me something will always be missing. Maybe I want mother nature to be the signature and not the afterthought.
The tunas are ripe in the southwest. I spent a couple of hours on the laborious process of burning the thorns then boiling. Once blanched and burned the skin is taken off with tongs, the center of the fruit blended, strained, and frozen prickly pear punch all winter long.
In a recent post I whined about how writing a book took me away from the life I was writing about.
I'm trying to find my way back. One thing that I noticed is that my habits have to be rewired. Writing put me in the habit being in front of my computer as my life's default position. It's time to shift that. Today I yanked this lovely 1970s lamp that I got at a yard sale for $4.00 and figured out a way to hang it.
Since our home is a trailer that has no useable ceiling I wasnt sure how to approach mount it. I found a solution. A right angle bracket with butterfly screws to add support. It worked! I am exited to get rid of a space stealing table lamp.
Swap-O-Rama-Rama and Maker Faire have been happy partners for years.
I am thrilled to announce that Swap-O-Rama-Rama is coming back home to NYC to join Maker Faire at New York Hall of Sciences in Queens in September.
If your in NY, don't miss it. Swap-O-Rama-Rama is the largest clothing swap and textile repurposing event in the world and it is loads of fun!
This summer Mikey and me and taking turns visiting The Lama Foundation. I just went to meet up with a group of Ruhaniat Sufis and dance with them and remember my connectedness to the life of this world. This weekend Mikey makes the 8,000+ foot high climb to get there and spend time with author of the book The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz and friend and herbalist Kathy Hope. This workshop still has space so if your interested in studying fermented foods with the living expert, this is your chance.
Lama Foundation is a lovely intentional community located on a mountain top in Questa, NM north of Taos. There one can experience alternative buildings, cisterns, gardens, and view that's just crazy beautiful. Its worth the trip.
I quickly tossed 10 lbs of pears into the blender. They broke down easily and were then bagged and frozen. There is pulp mixed in, but I'm hoping that if I let them partially unfreeze the sugary pear concentrate will be released before the fiber and frozen water. Just a experiment. If it does work out my process for getting pear concentrate (used for last step fermentation) will be a lot faster than using a juicer.
Yes, we finally had a decent summer rain. It poured occasionally and went on through the night. I tapped our four rain water catch tanks this morning and noticed that three of them are approaching full. We have a good chance of getting more rain this week.
Caleb Kraft from Hack-a-Day stopped in to visit while he toured the Southwest last week. Caleb and I had exchanged e-mails for years, but had never met in person. After showing him some geeky stuff we drove to a nice spot of the Rio Grande and sat around in the river to cool off.
A friend of a friend on Facebook turned me onto this refreshing drink that somewhat resembles a Shamrock Shake in color. It's a strange taste, but it will impress.
- 2 cups yogurt
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup basil
- 2 limes pressed
- 1/4 cup honey
- pinch of salt
Blend with a tray of ice cubes and serve.
In New York we were utterly commodified. Now we are what we would once have considered money poor. We are also time wealthy, abundant and free.
For the first time since arriving in the desert I did something that commodified me. I wrote a book for a publisher. To do so I stopped living the life I created and wrote about it. Mikey can attest, I fulfilled the cliche image of manic writer tearing their hair out behind a screen, pale skinned and pimple faced from irregular eating and lack of sleep.
The book is finished. It made me notice where we are, have been, and who we are for having traveled.
This summer I've blogged less than any previous year. It was not that I was too busy writing though it is true that I was.The book took precedence over gardening, cheese making and the new project list. It turned me inward. I struggled. I prefer to struggle alone. Blogging was the wrong direction. What I share through this blog is quite naturally outward. Why? Outwardness is the direction of joy.
I didn't anticipate crossing an emotional chasm to return from the book back to the life I created in NM. I didn't realize what the life I made was composed of, things I never allowed myself while living in NY: having no set schedule; star watching in the middle of the night and taking inventory of the life in the garden each morning; saying no to distractions but for the most special things; harmonizing my particular psyche with sewing for repose, long spans of silence, noticing the small like my breath, rigorous landscaping to release tension, gardening to tenderize my heart and remind me of connection, and the blog to remind me to digest, contemplate and articulate my experiences.
Quitting your job and buying a fixer upper wont provide any of this. The formula is complicated. When we arrived in the desert we listened, trusted, and responded to things commodified life left no time for: our desire, our hearts desire, our whimsy, curiosity and play. At times we made little sense to others. We decided, "lets get rid of all the money we have as quickly as possible by buying things that have real value, things that make other things." Then we bought tools we did not even know how to use; cement mixers, power tools, kitchen tools. We gave the best of what we had away knowing the gift is the most powerful tool of all.
These decisions made us free. Freedom has a rhythm that's outside of time. One does not enter and exit it. When you are on it's wing you know it because you feel joy. Back on the ground all you can do is dream of flight. If it were easy who would care. It is easy only once you have arrived and getting there is worth every ounce of effort.
I'm not back in my life yet. I'm on the edge wanting in, remembering. But I all I need to get there is desire. And if I can not find it, well I can read my own book!
Book: Abundance The Future is Better Than You Think, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.
The book had a few angles that I didn't like. One of which was whenever a new technology was described to fix a serious world problem it sounded like the PR group for the company wrote that section of the book. I would have preferred more of a engineers view of the technology describing why the solution was so hard to implement and the real problems they were facing. Another angle I didn't like was a end goal of once everybody has the basics they can then go to work everyday and buy stuff with that income. That doesn't seem like such a great goal, but obviously I'm biased.