Friday, September 9, 2011

The Trees

What I miss the most about Federal Street...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Homebrew is America

I'm finding that I need to redefine patriotism for myself. Perhaps, I seek a connection with a larger cultural web of ancestors and traditions. Or, maybe it's the 10 year reunion of 9-11. As a 10 year old in rural Oklahoma, I staged my own Fourth of July parade with wagons, my little sister, and Disney the Dalmatian. Now, I am wondering where that connection was lost or if it was ever there.
To begin, patriot comes from the Ancient Greek word pater, meaning father. I share the same sentiment as Amanda in Another Roadside Attraction, "No more father figures! No more."
The connection I feel with America's culture is through the autonomy of apron strings and the abundance of warm apple pie. Thus, quitting my blue-collar job is patriotic. Here are 3 reasons why:
1. I am embracing the idea/concept that the place that I am in now is the best place I've got
2. This place that I'm in is America, a land abundant in freedom of choice which always leads to consequences. Consequences lead to creation, the opportunity for autonomy.
3. I am choosing to own that freedom and to create my life, my work, my joy.

Labor Day was originally conceived in 1894 as a national holiday consisting of a parade to exhibit the "strength and espirit de corps of the labor organizations" followed by a festival for the laborers and their families (thanks Wiki for the info). Instead of attending the local parade (was there one?), I bottled beer to celebrate this great holiday of Labor. This is the beer that I brewed in my kitchen at Federal four days before moving out. Tonight, while admiring the wealth of freshly bottled homebrew in my new kitchen, I understood why I was so insanely compelled to start this batch before moving. It began at the end of Federal Street and ended at the beginning of Sellers Place, spanning the changes that occupy that time and space of the summer of 2011. This beer is the bridge over my summer.

And now, America's Godfather of Brew, Samuel Adams, "Driven from every other corner of the earth, freedom of thought and the right of private judgment in matters of conscience, direct their course to this happy country as their last asylum."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

We interrupt this program for a brief message from our sponsors...Teachers

Tomorrow morning marks the first First Day of School that I will be sipping coffee in pajamas. Sure, my stomach will be tied in the same old knots (first day jitters?) but not for the same reason. See, tomorrow marks my first day on the job of Me. I am my own Boss, and from what I know about Boss Jessica, it's not going to be easy. I just jumped off the 10 year investment I made in the education system as a public school teacher. 5 years as a student at UNLV, devoting hours weekly to volunteering and working as a substitute at schools around the Las Vegas Valley. 5 years as Ms. Penrod with fifth graders, second graders, and kindergarteners building gardens, hatching butterflies, and reading books.
Here's a little prayer for all of my friends at Morrow ES. May tomorrow be full of sharp pencils, bright smiles, and fresh nametags. Thank you for being the strength in our childrens' lives.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

This evening's special...

Curry orzo stuffed green bell peppers
Beets, 1 turnip, 2 yellow summer squashes, seasoned with garam masala
Yogurt and Ginger Mango Chutney stuffed mushrooms.
All roasted.
Accompanied by a glass of Basque wine.

Kitchen inspiration brought on by a poem I read to my students today called Jessica Jane

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


2 weeks ago, I hosted a Seedbomb Making party at my house. A few good friends attended and by the end of the night we had over 60 seed bombs and at least 2 cases of empty beer bottles. This party was also helping me prepare for the bottling stage of my homebrew. :)
While researching seedbombs, I bookmarked these sites as a few of my favorite. The very first site has the recipe we used: - Tried this recipe out first. The newspaper was fun to play with and making heart-shaped seed bombs was pretty sweet, but they ended up being too dry for our climate. - Great website! This page details a variety of seedbomb recipes.

I thought this should be as free as possible. Somehow, it didn't feel as genuine if I had to buy the ingredients. So, I used clods of clay dug from the permie plot at the Tonopah Community Garden, dry compost from my own backyard bin, and a combination of loose seeds from everyone who came to the party. We ended up with regional wildflowers, vegetables, and herbs.
After they dried up, I took the dog for a walk and "planted" a few. I was picky about where I planted my bombs. I chose spots that I knew would receive some water from run-off or sprinkler. Also, the spots were generally overgrown, weedy, trashy areas that could use something pretty. I plan on keeping track with photos over the next few weeks to see if anything grows. How Vegas...always a gamble.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

What I learned today...

* Blue eggshells turn a beautiful green in the compost pile
* Northern Sea Oats are hardy
* I have mycellium growing through the alfalfa/straw mulch in the side yard
* Throwing rotten pumpkins is fun
* The main sprinkler pipe split from the freeze
* Moving too fast can hurt your fingers
* How to properly use a charcoal chimney starter

I spent the whole day outside. Time meant nothing. I didn't even need to eat. I listened to my iPod and sang to the dog while doing whatever it was that needed doing out in the yard. All except the smashed fingers in the door, it was a fabulous day. When I smashed my fingers, I took the next hour and a half off. I sat on the porch swing with an ice pack and watched the garden, napped in the sunshine, pet the dog, and read a little. Observation and stillness in the garden are as important as change and movement.
I grilled squash in the fire pit for dinner. It helps me pretend I'm camping.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Trading chickens for an iPhone?

I've taken my sweet ass time getting a cell phone. After years of resistance, searching for pay phones in seedy areas of Las Vegas, I've purchased an iPhone. It will satisfy my desire to be more organized and polished in the many projects I get in to. It will be a reliable source of communication when volcanoes and earthquakes knock out land lines. It will pinpoint my exact location, purchases, and feelings. I can post videos of a Chihuahua wearing a sombrero and dancing on YouTube. I might even set up a Twitter account just to join Jimmy on Late Night Hashtags.
I cannot lie. I am as nearly excited about this new toy as any Wired magazine reader would be. I also read Mother Earth News and often go to work with chicken shit still on my boots. As my parents put the final touches on the chicken coop, the date of departure for my feathered friends is nigh. So, the timing is a bit painful.
My dad has built the Taj Mahal of chicken coops. Taj Mahal in the sense that it is a passionate expression of devotion for his love. It is also quite an upgrade in real estate for the ladies. The coop here at the yellow house is a dog crate (tall enough to stand in) with an closet rod for a roosting bar. They have an old milk crate for a nesting box. They eat out of a dog dish. They are allowed to roam free all over the backyard during the day and put themselves up at night. They lead a mostly feral lifestyle. Keeping chickens for me has been more like inviting some birds to stay. Other than the morning breakfast, it's free range.
On Tuesday, I found Maggie in my neighbor's yard at sundown. I counted the chickens on the roost before saying goodnight, "One, two, three...where the hell?". I instantly spotted her in my neighbor's backyard and hopped the fence. I chased her around for 15 minutes wearing cowboy boots, dirty jeans, and a flannel, no joke. Finally capturing that chicken and holding her in my hands was profoundly rewarding. After we both settled down, I knew that this move was a good idea. The chicken coop/shed that my dad designed for my mom is a work of heart. The chickens will be safe and protected from coyotes, cold rain, and neighbor dogs. As a bonus, my mom will have her first garden shed. For almost 20 years, the saddle and bridle have been moved around in boxes and now they have a hook to hang on.
Rita, Lola, Lupe, and Maggie, I will miss your morning call to a scrambled egg breakfast. I will miss your pretty feathers all over my lawn. Guero will miss herding you.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

Well, sometimes I feel fine about it and other times I'm ambivalent and then there are the times that I'm despondent. It's not worth debating in my head what it is or when it will happen, because I'll miss out on what I've already got, right? One thing I know for sure is that it's been on my mind. Every time I watch my partner, my love, drive away to work, I get a little sick in my stomach wondering if this is it. Worry is useless, I tell myself, shake it off and move on to the to do list that keeps a mind distracted from deep ethereal rhetoric such as that. I spent today cuddling with the chihuahua in the various soft places throughout my humble home, meandering through the many paths on the Internet. In the course of my couch travels, I found these nuggets of comfort. So, who knows what the hell will happen? Not I.

I started my day off with this book:

The Money Fix

Spontaneous Vegetation
I spent some time exploring this website and Nance Klehm's work. She's hosting a Rainwater Harvesting Class in Joshua Tree next weekend. Tempting...

A short film put together by a local film company showcasing a Councilman running for election. I like the shots of downtown Las Vegas and the overall love for my town. That's it, I said it. I always thought the farther away I was the better, but I like it and it's no use lying to myself anymore.

And...Rob Hopkins speaking on Ted of Transition. Sustainability or resilience?