La Boqueria

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En route to Portugal we stopped in Barcelona. I lived there for a year when I was 19, and I am glad I was able to appreciate the hard-partying-up-all-night lifestyle before I became a “disgusting old ghost” last month.

La Boqueria is a completely authentic sort of market, while also being insanely touristy place. It is a dreamy place of piled meats, fruits, vegetables and fish.

When I go to the supermarket, I generally find myself going from dairy/meats/cheeses on the left to grains/veggies on the right. La Boqueria cuts the crap and takes the best non-processed foods part of a supermarket and smooshes them together.

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The Beginning Before

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Kevin and I aren’t the sentimental kind – our wedding bands were bought last minute off of Amazon for 99 cents. Kevin doesn’t buy me flowers, never surprises me with fancy dinner dates, and definitely does not buy me expensive jewelry, and I like it that way. My sort of sensibility builds houses, handmade furniture, and long arduous team building style adventure vacations. Our best moments are the working through the shit to find a diamond times, the tearing apart and then rebuilding of something together.

 

We first met six years ago in New York – I was fed up, in all the way that people living in New York get fed up. I had gone to Vermont that summer and spent time in a magical gnome house that had been built in stages, over years and expansive life stories, I wanted those kind of layers. Three months later, I met Kevin. He stayed at my house the first night and then helped me move into my new apartment (with five other friends) the next day, he never left. Kevin and I like to move fast. And so in our fashion we moved through living together, through extended travels together, to being engaged together (which lasted 5 years), to within a year buying a house together.

 

We bought our house through the bank, a foreclosure of a previous owner, who rented to section 8 tenants. But in the end really from Laura, the keeper of the house, for the previous 20 years. She was over 65, African American, Section 8, and slightly disabled (most likely from the black mold that inhabited the lovely shit hole we were about to buy). She was also known to keep an ax by the door to chase people away. In the beginning it was always really about Laura, her decision to sell and her desires, and so began my months in helping her find a new place slash being the  bearer of all she desired. Medications, Oakland funerals, many many potential apartment visits, with lots of Smirnoff Ice with an added twist of “White girl, you like my daughter”.  It was fun, a little bit weird, and the beginning of our adventure. Laura just died a few months ago, God bless her soul.

 

Once Laura was settled, so there began our years of little by little. It was demo nights and my clean up dump days, which turned into camping in the yardweeks to camping in the house months, then on to the air mattress in the living room era and finally to completely unfinished but livable rooms. The years accented by baby chicks in unfinished bedrooms, finding three legged kittens in the streets, and little James (our favorite neighbor) wandering the wreckage and teaching us how to dance The Jerk. There were also days of exploding toilets where poop flowed from the ground and finding ourselves and some really awesome friends scooping bucket loads in the rain. Plumbers are really expensive.

 

Kevin and I aren’t the kind to enumerate our accomplishments, and in the end I wish I had documented more, because, some days I am really proud of us. We have dry walled, plumbed, scraped, cleaned, nailed, tiled, built our way to, not the top, but up enough to see a pretty good view and (through the help of some great friends and one awesome electrician) have been able to create something that is not close to perfect but has become a reflection of us, our abilities, and some sort of sum of our love.

 

I wanted to post some pictures of the past few years because I never have and we are about to begin the next stage of our process. The Lift. Which will be documented and spoken about at further length in the future. So here it is, the beginning, the asbestos and the dust and beautiful reclaimed hardwoods and the mess and the mold and all the things that have pulled me away from internet world and into the us.

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Archery

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Until recently I had not given archery much thought. The only image I had was of Kevin as a young blue-eyed boy – and as most young boys interested in danger and destruction – playing chicken, the archery version. A game where you direct your bow straight into the air and whoever stares up into its trajectory the longest is the winner – or is impaled. If you like doing dangerous things you probably know what I am talking about. I, on the other would shudder when I would ask Kevin to tell me about his childhood games.

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Even (as shown in these photos) is an instructor at Trackers, an admirable organization that teaches kids how to do compelling and adventurous things like track animals in the forest, throw knives (and tomahawks!) and shoot at things with bow and arrows. It was through Even’s stories of summer camp and Kevin’s nostalgic love of shooting at things that I felt inspired this week to go with Even and buy Kevin a bow and then test it out for myself. And after I read that archery has about as much injuries as bowling and less injuries than golfing a year, I was game.

Venture into the hills of Oakland and you will find an archery range called the Redwood Bowmen’s Archery Club. This is really manly, yet graceful stuff here. Surrounded by redwoods, sexy bowmen, and an archery trail that sports targets of shapely moose, how could it not be perfect.

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 Archery in its former life began in the Paleolithic/Mesolithic era. First came the atlatl (an ancient spear thrown contraption that everyone should read about) and then the subsequent evolution and reign of the bow and arrow. An inherent object of grace and style, manly, while also integrating into itself a certain finesse and grace. In my mind is the most metro sexual of all the killing machines.

One must only thing of bows and arrows to conjure up images of Greek mythology – feminine, naked men scampering through the forest killing young bucks or other mythological figures. And then of course there is Cupid, the naked baby. The scenes and poetic themes around Cupid and arrows are romantic in their references and as oft used to have been killed by Hallmark in a bloody death of repetition and holidays.

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000036Cupid was know to carry two arrows. One was golden tipped and filled the victim with uncontrollable desire and the other with a tip of lead which led to aversions and desire to leave.  Not often told there is also a story of Cupid as a honey thief (Even as beekeeper.)

“In the tale of Cupid the honey thief, the child-god is stung by bees when he steals honey from their hive. He cries and runs to his mother Venus, complaining that so small a creature shouldn’t cause such painful wounds. Venus laughs, and points out the poetic justice: he too is small, and yet delivers the sting of love.”

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Sadly, firearms were rendered archery obsolete. Gone were the days of men riding the Mongolian tundras or American West on horseback adroitly killing prey and/or enemies, and in came the cowboys and the era of erratic yet powerful muskets.
Then one day after the  Napoleonic Wars archery again became popular among the upper classes. Framed as “… a nostalgic re-imagining of the pre-industrial rural Britain”, it was also known for its popularity among females. “Young women could not only compete in the contests but retain and show off their sexuality while doing so. This archery came to act as a forum for introductions, flirtations, and romance. ” Archery parties were all the rage at this time and a perfect example of some of the fashionable pastimes of the rich and famous in Victorian times.

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I personally would love to host an archery party, except I don’t live  on a fancy grassy estate and as of my first experience I look like a scrunched up owl when shooting my bow.
Here’s to more hobbies, going into nature, and being a sexy come hither archer that shoots at the males of your desire with arrows of gold and not of lead.

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Botanical Adventures: World’s Rare Plants

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The other day I fell into one of my internet research vortex holes. The kind I sometimes get into where I research tons of useful/useless information that is borderline educational while also being a black-hole-time-suck. This particular night it began with Selective Eating Disorder, which is a disorder in which one only eats a limited amounts of food which generally revolve around kid centered food i.e. mac and cheese, cheese pizza, and french fries.

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For some reason, in my caffeine induced mania (I had just drank Chinese tea for three hours with a friend), this seemed like the worst imaginable fate possible. The vortex pulled me into the world of people that eat only beef flavored Monster Munch potato chips (don’t ask, they are British), or others with eight year cheese pizza (only cheese pizza) obsessions, or the girl with a chicken nugget and french fries ten year stint.

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I just kept thinking, “How is this possible? How does a person live on bread alone?” (Or in most cases white carbs and cheese). One article I read said that selective eating disorder might be an adaptation of certain human beings in response to their own bodily needs. Which, is interesting because even though many are not in top health most of them live and look as anemic as any unhealthy fast food eating American. If you had told me that someone could live on beef flavored potato chips three times a day for 8 years, I would not have believed you.

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Lately, I have spent a lot of time thinking about diet. The building blocks of a complete meal – the nutrients and trace minerals and energy givers. I have also been thinking about anthropology and the diets of peoples throughout the millennia. The humans in the Northern regions that eat seal meat for months through the cold winters with only trace amount of vegetables, or the high sugar fruit based diets of other native tribes. You begin to get this picture that humans are adaptable. Nature is a resilient sneak in-between the cracks and attempt to prosper sort of entity (a little like the gigantic weeds that sprout in-between tiny cracks in Suburbia). Everyone is waiting for an opportunity and their is always gonna be something to fit the bill.
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Carnivorous plants are adapted survivors. When I was brushing up on my carnivorous plant trivia this morning I thought of Selective Eating Disorder because this is what they have done, they have adapted and used a single mindedness to survive. Most carnivorous plants grown in habitats such as bogs where soil nutrients are almost immeasurable. The soil is often waterlogged and toxic ions such as ammonium build up. Carnivorous plants have found a way to survive by having a hunger – a hunger for animals that provide nitrogen , phosphorus and potassium. Through millennia they have developed a sort of selective eating disorder, a singular obsessions with bugs.

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If you are traveling along the One on the California Coast. Go to Half Moon Bay. If you want to go deeper, travel along the 92 that leads you back to the Bay. On the way you will see swathes of flower farms and nurseries, my favorite one is World’s Rare Plants. You will meet the nicest set of couples who run their nursery, which is a product of fifty-six years of obsession. Their carnivorous terrariums are quaintly cute, very unique and not meant to be resisted.
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If you want to see more Carnivorous plants check out this post of California Carnivores and Sebastopol I did awhile ago.

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Plant of the Week: Armatocereus

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I had a boyfriend once who was into bodybuilding. He had that big book with tons of pictures of Arnold Shwarzenegger and he would eat that white protein powder that is supposed to make you big and strong. He wasn’t THAT successful and Thank God! because big burly men are definitely not my thing.

 Up until two weeks ago I had never been to a body building contest, the thought had never even passed my mind. Which is semi strange, because I grew up in Venice Beach, home to one of the bigger events of body building, you think I would have at least some passing interest. Yet, I continued ignorant for 29 years, continuing to show off Muscle Beach to my tourist friends, but ignorant of the awesomeness that is a body building competition.

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Venice beach is a chaotic and exciting fiasco on 4th of July weekend (especially now that it has been overrun with trendy dot com beach lovers). Drunken ribaldry is bountiful, even more than usual, and this year included more fratty looking people in capes of American Flags than I ever remember. It was on our stroll that we discovered  the annual “Mr. and Mrs. Muscle Beach” competition and I am so glad we did. If you have never been to a body building competition I recommend it. Burly cartoonish men “dancing” their slow-paced moves to chosen soundtracks as “Eye of the Tiger” or a slow paced Celine Dion. Every stereotype you can imagine of Herculean bodybuilding men is showcased at these events and it is fabulous.

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So you ask me, what does this have to do with the Plant of the Week? Nothing really. Except, since I have plants on the brain most of my days it seems I find myself making farfetched connections between people and plants and plants and people and thus  anthropomorphizing the plants I see. This weeks plant is most definitely a plant on steroids.
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It was also Fourth of July weekend wandering through the haze of drunken partiers that I also found this massive cactus, Armatocereus. I had no clue what it was, I have never seen anything like it, but in that moment it reminded me of those bodybuilders, fittingly, it is also nicknamed the “armed cereus”.

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I know little else of this tree, and scoured the internet to even just get the little I could, other than its genus. It is quite uncommon in cultivation and they are said to be difficult to grow. Armatocereus is from South America and it is  known to grow nearly 40 feet. It’s distinct features is its “pinch points”, the segmented yearly growth cycles on its otherwise cylindrical and ribbed stems.
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Armotocereus, the ‘roided out, muscly, and jaw dropping body builder of the plant world. 

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