July 30, 2010

Homemade Birthday Bounty

This year, my birthday celebration was all about food.

First, on Saturday, E2 and I made mozzarella from scratch, using ingredients from the Cheesemaking Kit I bought myself as a present.

For milk, I splurged on whole cream-topped milk from Straus Family Creamery.

After following the first half of the recipe, I was shocked to see that it looked like we may actually succeed on our first attempt:

The curds stretched, just like they were supposed to.

So we stretched them some more.

Meanwhile gorgeous salted garden tomatoes lay in waiting.

We tasted the cheese and could not believe how rich and creamy it was. So, quickly, before we ate it all, we prepared our first course of caprese made of garden basil, garden tomatoes, homemade mozzarella, California Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar from Modena.

MMMmmmmm... Homemade Birthday Happiness.

July 25, 2010


One of the concepts I've been working with lately is the idea of living a life with plenty of space. Temporal space. Physical space. Respectful space that allows other people to have their own life experience while protecting me from unwanted invaders in my life experience.

And, most importantly, the practice of patience to allow things to change or transition within the spaces I've created.

One of the areas of my life where I've been looking for a change is the frequency of my workouts. Life has thrown me quite a few curve balls, and I've pitched a few myself in the last 12 months. I dealt with this by taking time and discipline from my workout regime and placing it elsewhere in my life.

For the short term, that worked.

But now, as time goes on, I'm needing the emotional and physical stability that a regular workout schedule provides me. For the last month or so, I've been trying to get back into a more disciplined and regular work-out regime.

Turns out, trying is not the same as doing, and I was not making progress.

Rather than being disappointed with myself for failing to meet the goals I'd set (which is a traditional approach for me) and trying to motivate myself to change. I took a different approach.

I created space for my workouts:

-I joined a gym for the first time since 2006.

-And, I gave myself the time and space and permission to *just walk* instead of run if that's what feels good.

Somehow, without a struggle, in the space I created, I managed to log my first 30+ mile week in 2010 last week. Excellent!

Here's to more space!

July 20, 2010


Latest pics and garden update at Tech Law Garden.

July 15, 2010

The Devil You Know

I read just about everything that Havi writes and often nod in agreement. Occasionally, I don't like what she's written and I have interesting conversations with myself about why.

Without ever having met me, she teaches me things about myself that I didn't know through her writing.

Her most recent posts on exiting the middle resonated with me.

For the few moments each day when I'm there, being conscious of the moment and acting where action makes sense (and only where action makes sense) is a blissful existence. Each day that goes by, I find myself more grounded and comfortable in the midst of chaos than I used to be. Incrementally, I'm a little bit more able to just act and breathe in the moment.

And yet, every day. I get pulled into drama. I dwell. I get upset. I work myself up.

And then, eventually, I observe this, and try not to judge, but just notice what I'm doing by asking myself questions and giving myself the freedom to be honest. Where am I? Why am I upset? What can I change? What can't I change? What do I want? Why do I want it? Is it a need? Is there something I can give myself to meet that need?

Havi's concept of the middle, where a post-beginner *struggles* to become advanced, or where the hero *struggles* to prevail, where one partner *struggles* to fix the relationship, where each of us *struggles* against the people in our lives we perceive to have harmed us, and most importantly, we *struggle* against who we think we should be -- it is a comfortable place for most of us. It is the devil we know.

Acceptance requires that we abandon the struggle and just act in response to the reality that exists, no matter how different from our ideas, annoying, terrible, unpleasant, distasteful, scary, or boring we may find it to be. If we cannot make the change we want to see, we make a different change, or perhaps accept that no change is available.

As I've written before, my yoga practice has evolved from one where I was seeking great teachers and amazing classes (against which I could struggle) into one where I find a great yoga experience in any class I take or any time I opt to practice, no matter how short it may be.

But unlike a studio-based yoga practice (which provides a supportive calm environment for growth and change) in the real world, actions based in acceptance are guaranteed to cause unpredictable, and potentially uncomfortable, changes.

Most humans, even if supremely unhappy, will always choose the devil they know. This explains why so many of us stay in, as Havi calls it, the "Middle."

How great to be reminded that to exit the middle is as simple as becoming conscious. This is not to say the exit is guaranteed to be pleasant -- it very well may be an unpleasant devil you don't know. But, at a minimum, it will be different, and you will not be *stuck* in the same *struggle*.

Fascinating stuff.

July 11, 2010

Garden Update

Per the norm, the latest Garden Update is available at Tech Law Garden.

In other news, I'm much too busy with work and life to blog about law over at the professional blog in the last several weeks.

Yet somehow, I make time for the garden.

What does this say...?

July 7, 2010


I'm making my way through Home Cheese Making, and encountered this lovely quote:

A small garden, figs, a little cheese, and, along with this, three or four good friends -- such was luxury to Epicurus.
-- Friedrich Nietzsche

I wholeheartedly agree.

Yeah, Nietzsche was an unapologetic misogynist (My personal favorite? Woman is not yet capable of friendship: women are still cats and birds. Or, at best, cows -- Thus Spoke Zarathustra).

But, ignoring that fault, dude was a fairly decent judge of quality when he focused on males.

July 4, 2010

Book Review: Farm City -- The Education of an Urban Farmer

Oh, joy!

Novella Carpenter's hilarious book about running an urban farm by squatting on a vacant plot of land near her home in Oakland (aka Ghost Town Farm) is enjoyable from beginning to end.

I loved reading this book after Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. The similarities are obvious, but the differences are amazing.

In particular, I loved to read how the ghetto and Novella's cause co-existed and embraced each other and eventually led her, through her dumpster diving, to a symbiotic relationship with a high-class restaurant from the Chez-Panisse lineage.

It was refreshing to read stories directly conflicting with Barbara's classification of culture wars between city and country. Clearly, the culture conflict that bothers both Barbara and Novella is much more complicated than simple geography or socio-economic status, as the embracing of the farm by some in the inner city and the thoughtless country slaughterhouse story in Novella's book demonstrate.

Of course, I couldn't help but think that in the country, Novella would have no trouble finding someone to kill and butcher her pig. In the city, this was a true conundrum and she ended up driving 3 hours to pay someone to do it in a somewhat heartless way. In the country, hunters who do their own butchering regularly kill and butcher animals significantly larger than her pigs. No doubt, if I had pigs, I could get some books and ask brother to talk me through the more "you-know-it-when-you-see-it" portions of the process, or I could call some of daddy's or brother's friends and they'd do it for me -- one of them (a former electrical lineman and one-time butcher) might even be talked into letting us use his garage with the built-in drain hole where brother and his friends who can't afford professional butcher fees end up slaughtering their deer if I could bribe his wife to put up with it (and I'm guessing Grandma Sherry would let herself be bribed...).

This personal knowledge of the country is what made me side with Barbara, initially. But Novella's tale rings true to my experience in the hoods of Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco. Yes, I realize, the idea that there is or ever has been a hood where SOMA stands today is a bit difficult to process, but in 2000, I lived on an alley with a tent city. Granted, they were North Face tents. But they were still full of people with lighters under spoons and pipes who informed me that they'd protect my car because I was a nice neighbor.

Farm City is a book stuffed with Californian food history from the last several decades. If you are a bay-area or even Californian food history buff, this book will amuse you with its stories and additional color for things you thought you understood. The author studied for 2 years under Michael Pollan at UC Berkeley's school of Journalism, and yet, her message, story and voice are distinct enough from his that this fact is merely interesting, not an "of course she did."

This book is a gritty, honest, true-to-life tale of someone trying to live sustainably with an urban farm. It showed me that regardless of where you do it, my grandfather's saying was true, "Farming is the hardest business. You go bankrupt or, at best, it doesn't pay well. You only do it if you love it."

July 3, 2010

A Holiday Weekend

June was a whirlwind month for me.

At the law firm, I had to bill around 180-200 hours in a month before I really started to feel like work was pushing my life out the door.

As a solo, that number is much, much lower. I just totaled my billable hours worked for clients last month and it was a mere 139.5. But it felt like 220 at a law firm.

Business development, invoicing, making referrals, traveling to meet onsite -- all of these things were not required when I was an associate at a law firm, but now they are, and they take time (non-billable time, that is).

I definitely prefer my life as a solo over my life at the law firm, but a big end of quarter month is exhausting in either case.

Thankfully, my country's long weekend to celebrate its independence comes at the end of the fiscal quarter. And I'm off to a great start -- I decided not to attend any social events, and instead I'm sleeping in, gardening, doing chores, picking up our wine club shipment (4 months since we've last been in...), and in general puttering around the house without a schedule. It feels great.

Tomorrow, E & I will spend the fourth of July at home for the first time that either of us can remember in a long time. And, bonus, I get to share the celebration with my brother too!