Friday, December 31, 2010
In 2009, Corvallis, home of my alma mater, was also home to the second-greatest number, per capita, of volunteers.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Though we arrived in rainy Las Vegas well after the scheduled departure of my connecting flight, I was relieved to find that it was also mired in long delays. During my layover, on the video poker machines I managed to turn 50 cents into 5 dollars, but there was unfortunately no place still open where I could spend it. By the time I stepped into Mom and Rich's car at PDX, it was after 2:00 the next day, but I couldn't complain. I was home.
Friday, December 24, 2010
Before long it became clear that it was going to be an even closer call than I had thought; in order to make my 5:20 flight, I was going to have to catch the four o'clock Flyaway bus at Union Station and three o'clock hour had rolled past while we idled in Palmdale. My hopes were finally dashed when, winding through the San Gabriel mountains, the Antelope Valley Freeway became a parking lot. A call to Southwest Airlines revealed that I would have two hours after my scheduled departure to show up at the airport and make alternate arrangements.
As if that wasn't enough, I discovered next that the bus I had boarded wasn't even going to Union Station as my itinerary stated. It's last stop would be 7 miles away in Hollywood. Not knowing what to do, I put in a call to Max who advised me to take the Metro. Luckily, there was a Metro stop three blocks from where the bus stopped in North Hollywood, so I got off and rode the entire length of the Red Line to Union station where I boarded the 5:30 Flyaway bus.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
By my calculations I was only going to have between half an hour and 45 minutes to check my bags and make it through security at the airport and that was if I allowed for 30 minutes of slack during either of my bus rides. Under normal circumstances I would have just camped out in Max's living room the night before, but I figured he was probably already in Portland for the holidays.
I watched and waited while my driver took a 45-minute lunch break (the same driver who gave me a hard time when I had to run in to LA to get my Peace Corps papers). 15 minutes after my scheduled departure we rolled out of Barstow onto the wet desert freeway and moments later were on some secondary road heading northwest. This was a troubling development when you consider that my itinerary had me going through Victorville which is half an hour southwest of Barstow on I-15.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
By the time Monday arrived, we were working indoors most of the day and what work was done outside focused on mitigating the ill-effects of water. We shoveled berms to divert its flow and piled mulch in walkways to avoid walking in it. It’s remarkable how quickly the stuff went from coveted resource to nuisance. When the hour arrived for my departure, Penny was vacuuming water from the basement.
|The food was still excellent!|
Friday, December 17, 2010
|Tonya and Ceci take a break from gardening to drink some barley grass juice. Jugs of water have been placed in the rows to protect plants and regulate temperature.|
I awoke this morning to the pitter patter of rain on the roof of my trailer. It was nothing much by Oregon’s standards but enough to give my freshly-washed clothing a light spattering on the clothesline. It’s Friday, only two full days before my December 20 departure, but in the Aquarius Ranch work week it’s a Saturday. Much has transpired since my last dispatch.
|Tomas and Derrick help Tonya transfer the wood-burning stove from the house to her trailer|
|Keeping the house clean is a constant battle in the desert when you have so many cats and humans tracking dirt inside.|
|The dome is coming along.|
Monday, December 13, 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
My time in Ventura was a whirlwind. I didn’t have as much opportunity to write updates because the bulk of my time was devoted to developing a website to showcase a few of the many sides of Lynne. The site is a simple gallery, but my design is such that changes can be made without ever typing the tiniest bit of code. It remains to be seen whether she will or not, but I know I have potential clients who are up to the challenge.
Since I didn’t stay current during the last week or so, I’m just going to list the highlights of my time to bring up up to the present, beginning with a night on the town with Roberto when I did some pub trivia (my impromptu team finished in second place) and then saw a band at a trendy bar where I met Sienna, the proprietor of nearby Wine Lovers. When I mentioned my upcoming Peace Corps services she told me about the year she spent living in Puerto Rico with family and in particular pointed out the scarcity of water.
The following evening Lynne had an art show opening in a little clothing boutique that was part of a trendy shopping alcove downtown. Afterwards, we caught the proprietor of nearby Kama Sutra Closet as she was leaving her appointment-only shop, and managed to get our own private, unscheduled visit.
Other things that happened included more yoga lessons, ecstatic dance, visits to Art City and The WAV, a rave-like dance party, complete with LED glove light show, and a sitar performance followed by a raucous Indian dance party. Never a dull moment.
Friday, December 10, 2010
|Into the rabbit hole|
Freshly departed from Currie and JJ’s with Angie now in tow, Lynne and I went to her house where we pooled cars and headed for the so-called “86 House”, stopping to get Carrie along the way.
The 86 House defies description. In the time I was there I saw many of the more than 90 pieces of underground art (mostly paintings) that were on display in nearly ever square inch of available wall space in the portions of the wall space that are shared by all the tenants. What unifies the pieces and gives the 86 House its name is the presence of 86 in some way, shape, or form (the actual digits “8” and “6” written or represented, 86 of something featured in the piece, etc.) in each and every one.
|Lynne examines her prototype|
Lynne had gathered us there that night in order to capture the bedroom of one of the 86 House’s residents for a creative project. Being an avid burner, she is working on an idea for a conceptual space to be constructed at the festival next year that involves wood paneling and 3D, wall-hanging beer adds. We came offering lasagna as a thank-you, and left after we had perhaps overstayed out welcome.
Our last stop for the evening was karaoke at Golden China. For a Monday night it was hoppin’, but I still got in a couple of songs. Both times, however, I picked the wrong song and had to improvise (then again, it’s kind of hard to screw up when you know the song and you’ve got the lyrics right in front of you).
|Ten point to the first commenter who can name the song I'm singing in this picture.|
Thursday, December 9, 2010
|GSA Dinner Party. I'm in there somewhere.|
The dinner party went splendidly. I felt a genuine affinity for the everyone I met there and everyone I remembered from the work party the day before. The theme of the dinner was comfort food, so my lasagna fit right in. I would even go so far as to say it was a hit. I made it with Roberto’s expert help in the kitchen (he’s a professional cook) and we substituted steamed kale from Roberto and Lynne’s CSA box for the spinach.
After a little while, Angie arrived and after a bit more hanging out, she, Lynne and I excused ourselves from the party after a fond farewell.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
|Noble companion: Spookums|
Having consulted with Lynne on several occasions and identified a plan of attack for helping her begin to realize her still-forming and ambitious vision, I proceeded to put in a few hours cleaning up a project I did a while back for Ryan Smythe. It involved a mashup of jCarousel Lite and lightBox for jQuery. Meanwhile Lynne finished and came inside, so I set her to task doing some parallel work. Somehow, I managed to reach a stopping point about halfway through the task at hand and find time to make a lasagna, ready to put in the oven at a moment’s notice.
Monday, December 6, 2010
My heart grows weary at the thought that my tour is more than halfway through. My December 20 return looms a mere 17 days away. It’s hard to believe six whole weeks have passed since my trip to Tillamook with the OMEN VISTAs. As I near the point of one week at the Artbarn, I feel great satisfaction in my progress, working decent hours from about day two onward at developing Lynne a tiny web application that will allow her to develop her web presence and continue to change an update it after I am gone.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
After some time spent shopping for groceries and doing laundry at the local Laundromat among other things, I had an opportunity to meet Matt, a long-time friend of Lynne’s with whom she was planning a partner yoga routine. I sat and worked on my computer while they studied a yoga book until Lynne’s housemate, Roberto returned home.
|More C.O.L.O.R. goodness.|
I had heard a lot about Roberto, and I was excited to finally meet him. Roberto has worked in the high-tech sector, particularly doing something that involves auto-cad. Being a dedicated foodie, however, he recently left behind his old career to pursue his love of cooking, becoming a cook at a local organic market and restaurant. Early in life, Roberto alternated between living in the United States and living in Mexico which, it seems, has endowed him with unusual character and insight. In the time since I met him, it seems we’ve often found ourselves deep in conversation about careers, cultures, or even life in general.
Friday, December 3, 2010
|Inside the Artbarn|
I awoke early the next morning to find the resident foot-warmer, Spooky, hard at work atop my sleeping bag. Stumbling out of the barn and into a shower and breakfast, I was greeted by an intrepid Lynne. Given that it was a holiday weekend, she hadn’t planned on hosting a “program” for local foster kids, but she anticipated that families would be showing up on account of her Saturday morning routine as part of Kids and Families Together.
I soon found myself entangled in string, pinecones, and peanut butter as I helped her little kids make natural bird feeders and seed balls (little balls of soil and seeds for the purpose of chucking into empty lots and unused civic space as a vehicle of guerilla native gardening.
Once we had satisfied our kid visitors and their parents, it was off for a bike ride up “The Ave” to a residential neighborhood where a bunch of Lynne’s young photographer and musician friends were having a garage sale. As we talked an hung out, a cold breeze began to blow and the sky threatened to bring rain so Lynne and I excused ourselves. On the way back, she took me for a tour of Ventura’s “little Mexico” at which I was duly impressed. Also featured was the downtown strip where Black Saturday was in full effect.
Back home, I busied myself with trying to repair my camera while Lynne worked on a series of paintings and I provided conversation and feedback. We tried to manifest a spontaneous dance party but only Angie turned up, so we went for a walk and found a patio with a fireplace. Upon returning home, Lynne’s friends Dain and Andy were there and I the four of us hung out until late.
|Spooky left us this present at the front door.|
Thursday, December 2, 2010
|A work party at Leo's old Sonoma County farm (you'll have to get Leo to give you a slide show if you want a better pic).|
On the train, I received word that Lynne would meet me at the station in Montalvo so I would transfer trains in LA. This meant I would be four hours in transit, a fact I relished for the sake of having a chance to read a Cormac McCarthy novel Max had loaned to me a few days prior and which I had been chomping at the bit to begin. I got about a third of the way through it!
|Is THAT a compost pile or WHAT?|
Once in Ventura, Lynn took me to a bar to see Seth Pettersen, a long-time local favorite of hers and then to a very crowded bar closer to the town center where we saw a band called Crippled Puppy and ran into a couple of her friends, Carrie and Angie. After that it was back to the home where she showed me into the back yard and I saw the famous Artbarn, which would be my home for the coming week.
|Leo cooked these enormous beans that he bought at the farmers' market.|
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
|Fresh produce from Leo's garden ready for the thanksgiving kitchen|
Around 8:00 in the morning, Leo and I rose and headed to his mom and dad’s elegant seaside home in Dana Point to help with preparations for Thanksgiving dinner. I was excited to learn that there would be no fewer than fourteen people present that day for Thanksgiving. As I chatted with Leo’s sister, Kira and brother-in-law, Mike, who had arrived before us from New York, along came his other sister, Meredith with her girlfriend, Hayley and Hayley’s mom, dad, and brother.
|From left to right: Kira, Mike, Seth's mom, Seth|
The more people arrived, the more people arrived, the more I felt positively charmed. There was Teresa, a long-time family friend from Argentina, Seth, a long-time friend of Mike and Seth’s mom who was here from Maryland via Colorado where she had recently visited her daughter. Together, everyone passed the afternoon, alternately lounging on the patio or in living room, or busied themselves in the kitchen, preparing vegetables and readying things for the oven.
|Marilyn (Hayley's mom), Leo, Maureen|
At least the time arrived for the feast. It was a meal fit for a king. Turkey, sweet potatoes, fresh beats and greens from Leo’s garden, green beans, stuffing, potatoes and gravy; everything was there. As we dined, everyone shared a single word that described what he or she was thankful for. When my turn arrived there was no hesitation; my word was “hospitality”. A highlight of the evening came when Hayley’s brother, Ross was given a blind taste-test of the various cranberry sauces prepared for the occasion. Ross was an interesting guy. Having been working for a gang unit with the LAPD, he had some rather alarming footage and photographs which he shared on his phone.
After dinner we retired to the living room to observe that other most sacred of Thanksgiving traditions; vegetating in front of the TV and casually milling about, grazing on the ample leftovers while our numbers slowly dwindled. As we took in the various Thanksgiving programs on TV, I was amused by Teresa’s compunction to remark that one person or another was a “son of a gun”. When the time for me and Leo to go home, I was sincerely sad that it was over. Definitely a Thanksgiving to remember.
|Meredith and Teresa|